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China forces tutoring companies to go non-profit

China forces tutoring companies to go non-profit

Chinese students face intense competition from a young age, leading many parents to pay extra for tutoring. (File photo: AFP)

BEIJING: China is forcing after-school tutoring companies to register as non-profits and banning classes on weekends and holidays, according to government documents published by state media Saturday (Jul 24).

The new rules, aimed at reducing pressure on children, parents and teachers in China's cut-throat education system, are a major blow to the country's multi-billion-dollar private education industry.

Chinese authorities will stop approving new after-school education institutions and all existing organisations must now be registered as non-profits, according to the document published by CCTV and authored by China's State Council and the Communist Party's Central Committee.

These institutions will also be barred from giving classes on weekends, public holidays and school vacations, according to the regulations, which CCTV said all government departments had been "asked to conscientiously implement in light of actual conditions".

Chinese schoolchildren have a notoriously large amount of homework and extracurricular activities which can often keep them up late into the night, as parents fight to give their children a leg up in an intensely competitive and exam-centric education system.

That has spawned a massive private tutoring industry, which was worth US$260 billion in 2018, according to consultancy and research firm L.E.K. Consulting.

But the excessive workload and the prohibitive costs of a "good" education have come under the spotlight in recent years, with some local governments implementing homework curfews.

The cost of education has also been cited by many young Chinese as a reason they are unwilling to have more children, even after China formally allowed all couples to have three children this year in an effort to stave off population decline.

The policy document shared by CCTV Saturday called for a "focus on the healthy growth of students (and) protection of students' right to rest".

An unverified copy of the document had been circulated on the Internet earlier this week, prompting the shares of New York-listed Chinese education companies TAL Education Group and New Oriental Education to plummet when trading opened on Friday.

Source: AFP/ga

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