China Shanghai – China is stepping up measures to crack down on the country’s booming tutoring industry to reduce the academic pressure on students and help solve the deteriorating demographic crisis.
In March of this year, President Xi Jinping listed extracurricular tutoring as a “social issue”. The Ministry of Education formulated a plan to reduce the burden on children and adolescents, urging parents not to send their children to private schools for counselling and telling teachers not to assign homework to students.
For many parents, these actions are a relief.
“We are very happy to see the government finally starting to pay attention to this crazy tutoring scene,” said Wu Xiaomei, a parent of two children in Shanghai. “We signed up many off-campus courses for our children, mainly under the pressure of seeing other parents doing the same thing.
“We don’t want our children to fall behind, but this is a huge pressure not only for us but for them, so these regulations are expected to make it easier for us to raise them at least financially.”
In the late 1990s, as more and more Chinese students wanted to improve their English skills in order to enter overseas universities, off-campus tutoring became popular; however, in the past 10 years, due to fierce competition for the best school and university places and parents Believing that what is taught on a typical school day is not enough to help their children reach their potential, the industry has taken off.
But rising costs and the greenhouse environment also make many young couples reluctant to start a family.
New measures-expected to be announced soon-in China, it was decided to allow every couple to have Three kids, Compared to the previous two restrictions that were worried about the impact in Beijing Aging population on economic.
On June 15, the Ministry of Education established an off-campus education and training supervision agency to supervise the tutoring industry such as teachers and courses. According to a Reuters report last week, although there are few details about the plan, the new regulations are expected to cover a wide range, including a ban on online and offline tutoring on weekends. According to Bloomberg Information, such courses account for more than one-third of private tuition fees in China.
Over the years, after many parents and even tutors themselves called “pathological crazy growth”, the tightening of regulations was a disaster for the country’s multimillion-dollar tutoring company.
New Oriental, Gaotu, and Good Future have seen their share prices plummet this year, and many offline and online tutoring companies have begun large-scale layoffs.
Employees of some organizations confirmed to Al Jazeera that people have begun to lose their jobs.
It’s not uncommon to have to pay hundreds of yuan for just one extracurricular tutoring—it’s almost one-tenth of my monthly income. How can I pay?
Zhao Jiang, Chengdu parent
The peak period of private tutoring is in the summer. Students usually use the three-month school holiday to prepare for the next semester’s competitive courses, but a source from a leading tutoring company told Al Jazeera that there were more than 100,000 jobs possible before. Face the risk then.
Companies that recently promised new jobs to candidates have begun withdrawing their offers.
“I have signed a rental contract and am going to move to Shanghai to work, but suddenly, I am out of work,” said Du Lei, who just graduated from Wuhan University. I am planning to join a large private education company to learn and think. She was told that her job offer had been withdrawn earlier this month.
“It’s absolutely heartbreaking, I don’t know what I should do now.”
Du is not alone; among the six new employees of various tutoring companies serving primary and secondary school students, some told Al Jazeera that they were desperate. A search on the Chinese social media platform Weibo revealed thousands of posts, among which new and current employees at the main counseling agency were discussing upcoming unemployment.
The government expressed its hope to reduce the academic burden of children and adolescents and prevent burnout, but despite years of intermittent efforts, the pressure has never really diminished.
There is a huge gap in educational resources between China’s cities, suburbs and rural areas, as well as between the rich and the poor.
For example, Shanghai offers some of the best schools in China, offers students a variety of choices, and a higher percentage of them have entered first-class universities. Its schools often rank high in global rankings-known as the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)-to track the performance of 15-year-old students in math, science, and reading.
However, in places like Guizhou, a less affluent province in southwest China, most people live in rural areas, lack qualified teachers, and lack basic infrastructure. Many children even have to walk several miles a day to go to school.
From the very beginning, tutoring companies have received more and more financial support—usually from venture capitalists with strong financial resources—organizing large-scale recruitment campaigns for teachers and promoting their products on multiple platforms.
However, parents said that with the development of this industry, the cost of tutoring has risen to an “unreasonable” level. Only the wealthiest people who are already likely to get their children into the best schools can now provide extracurricular tutoring, which will further increase It has widened the gap between the upper and lower classes of society.
“I considered sending my child to tutoring because he is not very good at math,” said Zhao Jiang, a parent in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. “However, it is not uncommon for me to spend a few hundred yuan on the last extracurricular tutoring-this is almost one-tenth of my monthly income. How can I pay it back?”
Although the expected goal is to make education more affordable for the public, many people are skeptical about the actual proven effectiveness of the new measures, and some worry that reforms may further exacerbate inequality.
A professional who has worked in the industry for many years told Al Jazeera, requesting anonymity: “After full supervision, it is very likely that only the most well-known companies can obtain the necessary permits from the government to continue operations.” “And the prices they offer are not necessarily correct. The less affluent families are the friendliest, which may exacerbate class differences.”
Some policy experts said that if there is no subsequent solution to the root cause of the increasing academic pressure of students and the decline in the willingness to bear children of the younger generation in China, the tuition regulations will only become band-aids for the provision of education and the population crisis.
“I think the problem is not just in the family education industry,” said Han Dongyan, an education policy researcher in Beijing.
“No matter how strict the supervision of tutoring, academic pressure will continue, because if there is no structural change in the inequality of education quality, education is almost always an industry, and people don’t necessarily think that raising children will be cheaper or easier.”