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After-school classes come under eye of inspectors

Zou Shou
Updated: May 10,2018 7:30 AM     China Daily

Seven teams will be sent to all of China’s provinces and autonomous regions to evaluate how well education authorities are regulating after-school training institutions for primary and secondary school students, the Ministry of Education said on May 9.

The inspectors, sent by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the State Administration for Market Regulation, will also make random checks on tutoring institutions as well as on primary and middle schools, according to a notice on the education ministry’s website.

Parents and students will be interviewed, it said.

Many tutoring institutions focus on teaching pupils how to perform well in exams, rather than aiding the wider educational development of the child, according to a statement issued by the ministry and three other central government departments at the end of February.

“They have given additional heavy homework to students and increased the financial burden on families,” the statement said. “Teachers who lure or pressure students to attend after-school training classes will be dealt with seriously or even stripped of their teaching credentials.”

They are not allowed to organize graded examinations or conduct competitions for primary and secondary school students. In addition, the results of training from these institutions cannot be used as criteria for future enrollment in primary or middle school, the statement said.

Last month, the ministry released a further rule requiring local education authorities to release detailed plans by the middle of April that will reduce students’ excessive academic burden. The plans should include timetables for specific measures, names of the people in charge and hotlines for the public to report misconduct.

In April, the Guangzhou Bureau of Education conducted secret inspections of 91 tutoring institutions. Eighty-two institutions were found to have engaged in misconduct, including safety hazards, exaggerated advertising and operating without proper permits.

Fifty-one institutions were given one month to make corrections, while 31 were closed and fees were refunded to parents.

About 160 after-school training institutions signed an agreement at a China Association for Non-Governmental Education conference in Zhengzhou, Henan province, to avoid teaching beyond the syllabus, exam-oriented tutoring, mock exams or academic competitions.

They also agreed to avoid connections with teachers in public schools or to use exaggerated advertising to lure students into after-school tutoring programs.

You Sen, deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Society of Education, said the guidelines are intended to increase the threshold for the sector and shut down substandard institutions.

“In the long term, after-school training institutions should only play a supplementary role in China’s education system, focusing on offering individualized educational services and promoting students’ all-around development,” You said.