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Rectifying After-school Institutions with Tailored Measures

Source: Wang Zhan Date: 2018-05-18

 Wang Zhan, former Vice-Minister of Education

The recent years have seen fast and unregulated development of after-school organizations for primary and middle school students. A report, released by the Chinese Education Association in 2016, shows that China now has 180 million primary and middle school students, while 137 million of them receive after-school education, a business worth 800 billion yuan. Many of these institutions emphasize test-oriented education, and have severely interrupted the healthy development of basic education. It has also added heavy study burden on primary and middle school students, as well as financial burden for their parents.

In March, before this year’s NPC and CPPCC opened, general offices of several ministries, including the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Civil Affairs, have jointly issued an action plan to strictly regulate after-school education institutions and reduce burden for primary and middle school students. A slew of rectifying measures were raised in the plan in imposing stricter regulations on after-school training institutions, which marks the government’s positive response to issues of public concern. Yet as there are many reasons behind the mass and unregulated development of after-school institutions, the rectifying work requires support from all walks of life as well as tailored measures.

First, strict market access to after-school education institutions is needed. The government should draw clear lines in the terms of licensing after-school education business as well as their content of businesses. The government should not only ban those institutions without license, but also stop those education organizations that favor test-oriented education. All education and training organizations are required to have the permission from local education authorities.

Currently, we should be aware about the phenomenon that such after-school education institutions are becoming increasingly common in grassroots areas such as counties and townships, which requires particular strict regulatory measures from the government. Any certificate or award from after-school training institutions should not be related to student’s enrollment during compulsory education state.

Second, more efforts of regulation are also needed in the primary and middle schools. The booming growth of after school education business also reflects the problem in public schools. Therefore, we should strictly tackle cases such as schools encouraging their students to take after-school trainings or disrupt teaching content so as to draw students to afterschool education. At the same time, people’s demands for educating their children are diverse, and the demand for after-school training does exist for students especially during vacations. Therefore, the government should improve public education service and encourage the government and parents to purchase services from public schools so that good quality education can be provided to students.

Third, we should tackle the root causes of such problems. The government should further expand high-quality education resources to boost the balanced development of basic education. Second, the government should guide and help parents develop sound thinking on educating their children and avoid the concept that “children must not lose at the starting line”. At the same time, we should accelerate the legislation in after-school education so that the sector will embark on a more regulated development track.