China curbs private tutoring to ensure fairer education for all
Illustration: Chen Xia / GT
To ease academic pressure on Chinese students and allay parents’ fears of giving birth to more than one child and deal with the country’s worsening demographic risk, China is tackling lucrative off-campus tutoring businesses while piloting reforms that encourage qualified teachers to move from school to school so that parents do not temporarily choose schools for their child – measures widely seen as having a profound impact on education.
Reforms are long overdue. Incomplete statistics show that urban households in China on average spend about a quarter of family income on education. The reason for these extreme expenses is that parents believe that the future competition for employment between their children is bound to become more and more competitive, and the children who start behind will stay, who are rarely able to make up for lost ground. .
Globally, only outstanding high school graduates with high academic marks can go to renowned universities, like Tsinghua University, Peking University, Fudan University, and University of Hong Kong in China. Others are faced with enrollment in regular colleges or vocational schools. College degrees have a strong bearing on future jobs, income, and their sense of self-fulfillment and satisfaction in life.
Moreover, in a knowledge-based society like China and the United States, the academic difference between students will largely decide the overall skills gap when they become adults – in critical thinking, solving skills. problems, originality, creativity and strategizing, on which the future of their family finances will be determined.
As education depends on the social mobility of a person, or even a family, the government has the obligation to ensure that all schoolchildren have equal access to educational resources. Around the world, education has been seen as a “great equalizer” for children from different family backgrounds, rich and poor.
However, achieving equality in education is never easy. For example, in the United States, school districts are often separated by parental income and family wealth. The link between racial and economic segregation has intensified education gaps in the United States, where the distance between the haves and have-nots is widening.
Likewise, the undeniable relationship between economic inequality and children’s educational inequality increasingly represents a societal failure that betrays the so-called “American Dream” ideal.
Hence the failure of Western education, the Chinese government recently decided to prevent the entry of private money into the education sector, believing that the education of children, like the medical care of citizens Chinese, should primarily be invested and provided by the state, in order to prevent wealthy families with higher socio-economic status from having priority access to educational resources – including high-level teachers, teaching methods technology, good nutrition, advanced sports and arts facilities and access to special off-campus training courses.
Causing disruption in private tutoring activities at school, funded by large Chinese tech companies such as Alibaba and Tencent, is now seen as a “social problem”, exacerbating fierce competition among students and increasing the financial burden parents of the working class. .
The Education Department has made plans to reduce the workload for all students, urging parents not to send their children to off-campus tutoring classes. The ministry even set up an off-campus education and training oversight department in June, which will oversee the tutoring sector, including teachers and programs.
Recently, Chinese authorities have gone to the point of warning domestic and foreign institutional investors of major private tutoring platforms – like Yuanfudao, Zuoyebang and many other tutoring firms that their IPO plans will be subject to a very strict examination. The planned government rules are to be added to restrictions imposed in March, such as a ban on live lessons for minors after 9 p.m., a crackdown on platform advertising and a ban on academic tutoring course offerings for children. preschool children.
For many parents, the move is a relief. But if the past years of intermittent efforts are a reminder, the effectiveness of the reform measure remains to be seen.
Considered by parents to be a morbidly mad enterprise, more than 75 percent of Chinese urban children, in grades 1 to 12, attend private tutoring classes. Parents tend to enroll in many tutoring classes for their children under pressure to see other parents doing the same. They fear that their children will fall behind if they do not register.
Models of education around the world have revolved around two aspects – egalitarianism and individualistic competition. In recent years, growing inequality in education has contributed to a number of broader issues, including income inequality, static social mobility, and the perpetual division of rich and poor. Take the United States for example, children of color are largely overlooked where black and Latino students have some of the lowest college completion rates, and their dreams of rising through the ranks of society are now fading.
On the heels of a long year from early 2020 in which online private education platforms have rapidly grown with significant investments from Chinese tech titans, ensuring education equality and reducing the costs of education is closely watched by Chinese parents. Tighter government oversight to restrict private education ventures, while ensuring the quality of public education, can provide a good clue for fairer education in this country.
The author is an editor at the Global Times. [email protected]