By Akhil Gunasekaran
China recently enacted a ban on all private tutoring services, which include companies both within and outside the country. Analysts believe that the ban will help many Chinese families alleviate the tension which comes with schoolwork, but some parents disagree.
Within China, there is a great amount of pressure placed on teenagers, who must prepare for the Gaokao examination. The Gaokao examination is a three-day exam that tests students on a variety of subjects, such as mathematics and language. This examination is scored out of 750 points, and students’ scores on the Gaokao are one of the most important factors that determine the college they gain admission to. Due to the intense demand of the Gaokao, many parents send their children to private tutors, in an attempt to help their children prepare.
Due to the ban, Chinese families now have more financial resources, and teenagers have less pressure. However, this policy also creates an underground-private-tutoring ring because the demand still exists. According to an article from Radio Free Asia, Zhou Xia, a former tutor, stated that tutoring prices went up to a hefty $465 an hour after the ban.
China’s guidelines themselves are wide-sweeping, affecting both businesses and students within the country. For one, companies that provide tutoring services must register as nonprofits, and, these services would not be able to operate outside school hours. Additionally, these businesses would be unable to go on a public stock exchange and receive any financing, preventing foreign investment. For young students, the guidelines set limits to homework time, with students in grades three through six having a maximum average of 60 minutes.
These regulations would also affect one of China’s largest education companies, VIPKid. VIPKid provides cheap tutoring services over the internet, which is why many of its tutors are based in the US. In an announcement posted on October 15, 2021, the company stated that it would be ceasing operations within mainland China by early November, putting many of its employees in the US out of a job.
Just before China’s private tutoring ban, the country put limits on gaming times for children. In fact, due to these regulations, children may only play three hours of video games on the weekend, and zero hours during the weekdays. Presumably, these regulations were enacted to prevent children from gaming addiction, or “spiritual opium” as described by Chinese state media. From these regulations, it is clear that China is putting education at its policy forefront, but at a cost to many’s financial and educational freedom.
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