New department to oversee China’s after-school tutoring

Art classes are a popular extra-curricular activity in China. Photo is illustrative. Photo sabu728 / Pixabay

After-school education and training programmes in China are growing wild. Now, China’s Ministry of Education (MOE) has established a new department in a bid to weed out problematic operators from the lucrative market.

On June 15, the MOE announced the founding of the Off-Campus Education and Training Department, tasked with the management of after-school education and training for preschool kids, as well as primary- and junior-school students.  

It will, the central government said, set out the standards for content and duration of both online and offline training, the qualifications of tutors as well as the charges.

In March, China’s President Xi Jinping called after-school training services a “social problem”. Now, the Chinese government is trying to fix this problem. 

The establishment of a department dedicated to off-campus tutoring comes after five government departments, in January, released a document that addressed the delivery of online education for middle school and primary school students.  

In April and May, a number of Chinese provinces and municipalities rolled out new guidelines for the booming tutoring market. And in early May, regulators fined both Zybang and Yuanfudao, two well-known after-school training platforms backed by Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Tencent respectively, a maximum fine of 2.5 million yuan (about 320,000 euro) each, reports the Communist Party’s newspaper Global Times.  

The same article notes that “many believe the storm of after-school business regulation will accelerate, particularly as the government has revised policies to allow a couple to have up to three children after census data showed a steep drop in birth rates.” 

Lucrative but problematic market 
According to a report compiled by market research firm Zero Power Intelligence in September 2020, the number of after-school training institutions in China had reached about 200,000, with the total market size surpassing 1 trillion yuan (more than 129 billion euro), Global Times told.  

The after-school training industry has had a huge inflow of investment, which reportedly has prompted some teachers to leave their normal teaching jobs to earn more at off-campus training institutions.  

The new department under the MOE is supposed to bring education costs under control, so that Chinese families are willing to have more than one or two children.  

With better regulation, China also hopes to better the quality of extra-curricular courses.  

If You are looking to enter that market, do not hesitate to contact us for insider knowledge and expert tips on how to navigate the Chinese off-campus education landscape.