China's increasing oversight on after-school training institutions will now expand to language training institutions with foreign investment.
Students celebrate the Halloween at an international School in Nantong, East China's Jiangsu province in this Oct 30, 2015 file photo. (Photo: VCG)
In a notice issued by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Commerce and the State Administration for Market Regulation on Friday, foreign-owned language after-school training institutions should register and get permission from local education, commerce and market regulation authorities before they can operate.
They should obtain permits to run an education institution from education authorities and then obtain a business license from market regulation authorities, the notice said, adding that the foreign institutions should also follow laws and regulations on foreign investment.
They should have stable and professional teachers. All foreign teachers hired by the institutions should obtain relevant teaching credentials, work permits for foreigners in China and have good work ethics, teaching ability and credit record, and the Chinese teachers should also have good work ethics and teaching credentials, the notice said.
Existing foreign training institutions have one year to obtain permits from education and market regulation authorities, it said.
Foreign brick-and-mortar and online training institutions should follow the same regulations as their Chinese counterparts, it added.
Jean Liu, chief corporate affairs officer of EF China, said the notice has sent a positive signal to foreign language training institutions in China by specifying the relevant permits they need to obtain to operate legally in the country.
It has given the companies more confidence to increase their investment in China and is conducive to their sustainable and healthy development in the country, she said.
EF Education First is a Sweden-based international company that specializes in language training. It operates in more than 50 countries and regions.
Since February last year, China has carried out what many experts have called the "toughest-ever crackdown" on after-school training institutions to reduce the academic burden on primary and middle school students.
The Ministry of Education said 98.9 percent of the 272,800 establishments that were found to have problems had completed rectifications by Dec 30.
In August last year, the General Office of the State Council, China's Cabinet, issued a guideline to regulate after-school training institutions, highlighting activities such as teaching students materials that are too advanced for their grade in core subjects such as Chinese, math and English.
Also, teachers at cram schools must hold teaching certificates and are forbidden from giving students homework. Moreover, classes must end by 8:30 pm.
Certificates and licenses will be reviewed annually, and local government websites will publish lists of certified establishments and name those that fail to meet standards, the guideline added.
The ministry and five other departments published a guideline in August to regulate online after-school training institutions, as many brick-and-mortar training institutions are quickly expanding their businesses online to evade government oversight.
According to the guideline, China will carry out a comprehensive inspection on all online after-school training institutions and keep a record of the institutions, their training content and teachers' credentials by the end of this year.
Teachers at online after-school training institutions should obtain teaching credentials, and training institutions should not hire teachers from public schools.