Ex­tra tu­ition un­der the spot­light

China Daily European Weekly - - China News -

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.

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