Extra tuition under the spotlight
Move aims to relieve financial burden on parents and study stress on students ahead of exams
programs, such as class content, targeted students and class time, to local educational authorities, which will be disclosed to the public.
“My son and I welcome the rectification. Tutoring classes are getting more expensive, and what’s worse is that parents are worried that their kids will be left behind if not taking the extracurricular classes,” says Wang Xia, a 35-year-old mother in Anqing, Anhui province. Her 11-yearold son goes to two tutoring classes each weekend, as do many of his classmates. “It’s an option without alternatives,” Wang says.
Provincial regions released their work plans to strengthen supervision of extracurricular tutoring, making clear that joint efforts would be made by authorities in education, civil affairs, human resources and social security and market regulation, said Lyu Yugang, director of the ministry’s basic education department, in May.
However, some educational tutoring institutions are not enthusiastic about the rectification and have continued allowing public school teachers to work for tutoring institutions, Lyu said.
The rectification came at an ideal time because some privately-run educational tutoring institutions organized contests and offered courses for lower-grade students to study higher-grade classes, says Wang Wenbo, secretary-general of the tutoring education commission under the China Association for Non-Government Education.
These tutoring classes, covering advanced course study, had affected compulsory education and led to peer pressure on students and their parents, Wang says. He says these tutoring courses have added to the burden on children and parents, financially and psychologically, and should be rectified to improve fairness among students. Rectifications made after the notice were effective ways to get these institutions on the right track, he says.
According to the Chinese Society of Education, China had 180 million primary and high school students in 2016. More than 137 million of these students took extracurricular tutoring classes, whose total market value stood at 800 billion yuan ($123 billion; 104 billion euros; £92 billion). The value almost tripled in 11 years from 2005, according to figures by the National Bureau of Statistics.
It’s been a common practice for tutoring institutions to operate without a license, says Xiong Bingqi, vice-president of the 21st Century Education Research Institute based in Shanghai. For example, following a check in July last year, more than 1,300 of Shanghai’s 7,000 such institutions were found to have no license, he says.
The supervisory system should be improved for tutoring services, Xiong says. All such services should be governed by a national supervisory system, allowing no “grey areas”, while a joint mechanism should be established to avoid overlapping responsibilities.
All tutoring institutions must submit their files in the system and should deposit risk-managing funds, he says.
However, current laws don’t forbid tutoring institutions to provide specialized classes ahead of school schedules, a practice that has caused a anxiety among parents and in turn stimulated the development of extracurricular tutoring, Xiong says. Therefore, he says legislation should be accelerated to ban in-advance education.
The rectification should also aim at where the demand comes from, Xiong says, adding that reforms should be conducted in how to evaluate students and guide parents not to give their children additional tutoring.