Chinese parents say ban on for-profit tutoring only helps the rich

Zhang Hongchun is worried that her 10-year-old daughter is not getting enough sleep. Between school, homework, and extracurricular prac...


Zhang Hongchun is worried that her 10-year-old daughter is not getting enough sleep. Between school, homework, and extracurricular practice of guitar, clarinet, and calligraphy, most nights she doesn’t go to bed until 11 a.m. Some of his classmates continue until midnight.

“Everyone wants to follow suit,” Zhang said. “Nobody wants to lose at the start line. “

In China, the competitive pursuit of education – and the better life it promises – is relentless. The same goes for the financial pressures it exerts on families already facing rising house prices, caring for aging parents and Dear Health care.

The burden of this lawsuit has caught the attention of officials who want couples to have more children. The ruling Communist Party in China has tried to slow down the education treadmill. It has banned homework, reduced live streaming hours for online tutors, and created more coveted slots at top universities.

Last week he tried something bigger: ban on private companies which offer after-school tutoring and target China’s for-profit $ 100 billion test preparation industry. The first limits should take place during the coming year, to be realized by local governments.

This decision, which will force companies offering private lessons to register as associations, aims to make life easier for parents overwhelmed by financial pressures related to the education of their children. Still, parents and experts are skeptical that it will work. The rich, they point out, will simply hire expensive private tutors, making education even more competitive and ultimately widening China’s gaping wealth gap.

For Mr. Zhang, who sells chemistry lab equipment in Kunming city in southern China, the ban on after-school tutoring does not address his broader concerns. “As long as there is competition, parents will always have their anxiety,” he said.

Beijing’s crackdown on private education is a new facet of its campaign to toughen regulations on Chinese businesses, an effort motivated in part by the party’s desire to show off its most powerful tech giants who is the boss.

Regulators criticized the industry for being “hijacked by capital”. China’s top leader Xi Jinping called it a “disease” and said parents face a dilemma in balancing the health and happiness of their children with the demands of a competitive, overly focused system. tests and scores.

The overhaul of education is also part of the country’s effort to encourage a extremely reluctant population to have larger families and meet a impending demographic crisis. In May, China changed its two-child policy to allow married couples to have three children. It promised to increase maternity leave and relieve pressure in the workplace.

Tackling soaring education costs is seen as the latest sweetener. But Mr. Zhang said it was out of the question for him and his wife to have a second child because of the time, energy and financial resources that the testing-obsessed Chinese culture has put on them.

The parental focus on education in China can sometimes make American parenthood in a helicopter seem odd. Exam preparation courses begin in kindergarten. Young children are enrolled in “early MBA” courses. No expense is spared, whether the family is rich or poor.

“Everyone is pushed into this vicious cycle. You spend what you can on education, ”said Siqi Tu, postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen, Germany. For Chinese students wishing to secure a place in a prestigious university, it all hinges on the gaokao, a unique exam for which many children are prepared before they have even learned to write.

“If this criterion for selecting students does not change, it is difficult to change specific practices,” said Ms. Tu, whose research focuses on wealth and education in China. Parents often describe being pressured into finding tutors who will teach their children next year’s program well before the semester starts, she said.

Much of the competition comes from a culture of parenting known colloquially in China as the “parent hen,” which refers to the obsessive involvement of parents in the life and education of their children. The term “jiwa” or “baby chicken” has become a trend on Chinese social media in recent days.

Authorities criticized private educators for exploiting parental fears associated with Jiwa culture. While ban tutoring services aims to take some of the anxiety away, parents said the new rule would simply create new pressures, especially for families who depended on after-school programs for child care.

“Extracurricular tutoring was expensive, but at least it was a solution. Now China has taken away an easy fix for parents without changing the problem, ”said Lenora Chu, author of“ Little Soldiers: An American Boy, a Chinese School, and the Global Race to Achieve ”. In her book, Ms. Chu wrote about her experience putting her toddler son in the Chinese education system and recounted how her son’s friend was enrolled in “first MBA courses”.

“If you don’t have the money, the means, or the know-how, what do you have left?” she said. “Why would that require you to have another child?” Certainly not.”

The new regulations have created some confusion for many small extracurricular businesses who are unsure if it will affect them. Others wondered how the rules would be applied.

Jasmine Zhang, a schoolteacher at an English training school in southern China, said she had not heard from local authorities about the new rules. She said she hoped that instead of shutting down institutions, the government would provide more advice on how to run programs like hers, which provide jobs for educators.

“We pay our teachers’ social insurance,” Ms. Zhang said. “If we are ordered to shut down suddenly, we still have to pay rent and wages. “

While waiting to learn more about the new rules, some for-profit educators outside of China see an opportunity.

“Now students will come to people like us,” said Kevin Ferrone, dean of studies at Crimson Global Academy, an online school. “The industry will switch to the Internet and payments will be made through foreign payment systems” to evade the new rules, he said.

For now, the industry is facing an existential crisis. Companies like Koolearn Technology, which offers online courses and test preparation courses, said the rules will have a direct and devastating impact on their business models. Analysts asked if they can survive.

Global investors who have already inundated China’s publicly traded education companies raced for exits last week, causing the industry to lose tens of billions of dollars in recent days.

Scott Yang, who lives in the eastern city of Wenzhou, wondered if his 8-year-old son’s after-school program would continue into next semester. He has already paid the school fees, and he and his wife depend on the child care program. Every day, someone picks up their son from school and takes him to a facility for table tennis, recreational math, calligraphy, and building with Legos lessons.

The ban on after-school classes will only allow families who can afford private tutors to give their children an advantage, Yang said. Instead of lightening a burden, the ban will increase it.

“It makes it more difficult,” he said, “for children from poor families to be successful.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Chinese parents say ban on for-profit tutoring only helps the rich
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