Tutoring sector changes course as China's new rule takes effect

Chinese authorities have recently rolled out a series of strict regulations to deal with after-school training and ease the burden on students' undergoing compulsory education.

Zhong Kaitong, a fourth-grade student in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, enjoys a much more sparkling summer vacation this year.

Instead of the English or mathematics training courses she used to attend, her vacation is packed with fun and laughter, playing badminton and basketball in the playground.

"It's great fun to go back to school and exercise with my friends," a smiling Zhong said.

Chinese authorities have in recent months rolled out a series of strict regulations to deal with after-school training and ease the burden on students' undergoing compulsory education.

In late May, the authorities ordered the comprehensive management of off-campus training institutions and a tougher crackdown on unqualified operations, false advertising, profiteering, and improper links with schools.

Last month, they introduced a guideline to ease the burden of excessive homework and off-campus tutoring on young students. It details requirements in areas including reducing homework and improving quality of education and after-class services provided by schools.

The guideline stipulated that local governments should stop approving the establishment of new off-campus, curriculum subject-tutoring institutions for students in compulsory education, and that existing institutions should be registered as non-profit institutions.

Local educational authorities have quickly responded, with many demanding the suspension of off-campus, curriculum subject-tutoring for children during the summer vacation.

A Xinhua reporter visited several training centers around a primary school in Shenyang, capital of northeastern Liaoning Province, and only found empty classrooms and staffers.

Subject-tutoring has been suspended for a week and will not be available in the whole summer vacation, they said.

Some tutoring institutions are actively seeking transformation under the new guidelines. A manager in charge of a major tutoring company said that 70 percent of their businesses have been affected, and they are exploring new service areas to adapt to the new policy.

New Oriental Education & Technology Group, a leading provider of private educational services in China, launched new consulting services, off-campus daycare, nursery services, and training of art, sports, and science after the new policy.

The Ministry of Education has also pledged to implement full coverage for after-school programs, which provide both enrichment and child care, in compulsory education schools.

Summer has never been so boisterous at the No. 9 Primary School in Shenyang. The kids are running towards each other with open arms in the playground as beautiful melodies float out of classrooms.

They are fully immersed in the 27 extracurricular courses, ranging from rock climbing, judo, chess and English programming, on offer for students attending daycare programs during summer vacation.

"We have also fully expanded students' activity space and opened libraries, reading rooms, playgrounds during the summer holiday," said Hou Mingfei, principal of the school.

A brake on after-school tutoring does not mean that the demand no longer exists. In a country where parents prize a good education, excellent grades mean more career options and even fate-changing opportunities.

A survey showed that some parents would arrange on-campus after-school classes for kids, or are inclined to invite teachers to tutor at home.

Yet the majority of parents are supportive of the new move. "Subject learning is enough at school and we hope to improve the children's overall quality during holidays," said a parent in Guangzhou.

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