China’s education crackdown: country’s new family law to ban for-profit home tutoring

  • China’s upcoming Family Education Facilitation Law will include a ban on for-profit home tutoring
  • The law will be submitted for a second review at a session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress this week

China’s upcoming Family Education Facilitation Law, which covers compulsory parenting classes for those with troubled kids, will include a ban on for-profit home tutoring, as Beijing widens its crackdown on the off-campus tutoring industry.

The Standing Committee of the National People‘s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature, is set to introduce a specific article in the law that will prohibit family education coaching services from conducting for-profit training, according to a statement by committee spokesman Zang Tiewei last Friday.

He said establishments that provide family education services will be categorised as “non-profit family education service organisations”. The article will provide specific penalties for those that operate beyond their remit.

Initially proposed in 2019, the new law was previously called the Family Education Law when its draft was first revealed in January this year. It will be submitted for a second review at a session of the NPC’s standing committee this week, according to Zang.

The proposed update to the Family Education Facilitation Law, according to state media, will plug the loophole through which for-profit tutoring services may disguise themselves as family education coaching providers. Once passed, the law will govern how parents conduct education at home for their children.

Crackdown on private tutoring leaves industry, students and parents drawing a blank

Efforts to get the Family Education Facilitation Law passed and promulgated comes amid China’s crackdown on the K-12 – referring to kindergarten to 12th grade – off-campus tutoring market in the government’s bid to alleviate the cost of education for families and exert its control through the public education system.

The central government sharpened its focus on off-campus tutoring enterprises after President Xi Jinping described the domestic market for K-12 after-school training services as a “social problem” that must be fixed during a meeting of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in March.

On July 24, Beijing directed all K-12 tutoring companies, a number of which are listed overseas, to register as non-profit organisations.

Companies that operate edtech platforms, or services that provide online education, will no longer be allowed to raise capital through initial public offerings, according to the policy promulgated by the State Council. It also barred listed companies and overseas entities from investing, or acquiring stakes, in these education firms that teach school curriculum.

That has prompted many private tutoring companies to explore pivoting into other areas, such as adult education, to help sustain their operations.

In an editorial last Friday, the Shanghai government-owned online news site indicated that China’s crackdown has significantly narrowed the areas in which these private tutoring companies can operate in the country. But it warned of a potential scenario in which “some entities may provide tutoring to parents under the guise of family education services, and enable these parents to be the ‘setters’ for their children”. That is a reference to the player in volleyball called the setter, who runs the team’s offence.

In the draft of the new law, family education is used in reference to guidance and influence carried out by parents or other guardians for the purpose of promoting the healthy growth of minors. It also describes the basic task of family education as “fostering ethics and character, by cultivating and practising the Core Socialist Values, advocating the exceptional traditional Chinese culture, and cultivating the comprehensive moral, intellectual, physical, aesthetics and labour development of the builders and successors of socialism”.

In addition to Family Education Facilitation Law, the NPC standing committee‘s session from Tuesday to Friday this week will also review draft laws related to personal information protection, crime and land borders. The standing committee will also read draft revisions of the Military Service Law, the Law on Scientific and Technological Progress, and the Law on the Prevention and Control of Noise.

Author: Josh Ye, SCMP

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