Facing an aging population, the Chinese government is trying to increase the birth rate by state intervention. By upping the role of the state in providing affordable housing, education, and healthcare, the Central Government hopes to see a rise in the birth rate in response. In the area of education, the state requires the public sector to play a larger role and restricts the role of private enterprise in education. (See below ‘720’ policy)
The stated objectives of the policy are to construct a virtuous ecosystem in education, reduce parents’ anxiety and facilitate students’ holistic and healthy growth. The document is 16 pages long so I am listing below the items that potentially have a direct impact on the online ESL sector:
Cut ties between private capital and the tutoring sector
Training institutions for core subjects are to register as non-profit organisations. These institutions are prohibited from initial public offering public on capital markets.
Impact on online ESL sector: It cuts the ties between private money and the tutoring sector. As a result, investors will leave the K-12 education sector.
Propose a more scientific use of after-class time
Schools and parents should guide children to participate in household duties, appropriate sports, reading, and art-related activities. Parents should actively communicate with children, care for their mental health, and help them foster a good learning habit (though the policy does not specify what this is). Online classes should last less than 30 minutes and finish no later than 9 pm.
Impact on online ESL sector: It means more restrictions on when and how long online teaching can take place.
Enlarge the role of public resources
Schools are expected to provide after-class custodian services to fit working parents’ office schedules. Schools can contract volunteers or people outside the public school system to provide such services. The Ministry of Education will develop free and good-quality online learning materials to improve education for all.
Impact on online ESL sector: This has more impact on in-person tutoring classes as some parents use these classes as a child-minding service.
Regulate outside-school training activities
Outside-school training institutions should not rely on education materials from outside China. Academic subject training should not take up students’ holiday and weekend time. They should no hire non-Chinese nationals from outside China.
Impact on online ESL sector: This is the item that concerns online ESL teachers the most. I have a separate section – scenario planning – to discuss various scenarios as to how this article can be interpreted and implemented.
Regulate training activities for pre-school children
Online training for pre-school children will be prohibited and that includes English subject training.
Impact on online ESL sector: Unfortunately this means a contraction of online English education for Chinese children below the age of six or seven.
Nine cities have been selected to pilot three measures – to clamp down on private tutoring of core academic subjects; to extend school offerings for after-school activities, and to regulate private tutoring companies’ fee-charging. These nine cities are Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Zhengzhou, Changzhi, Weihai, and Nantong.