Tutoring irregularities prompt crackdown

By ZOU SHUO | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-05-19 07:46
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Children take an online English-language class in Beijing. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]

Companies face scrutiny after series of breaches

Concerted efforts are being made by the Chinese government to clamp down on the booming private tutoring industry, with experts saying tougher regulations and crackdowns on misconduct are expected.

Tutoring companies Zuoyebang and Yuanfudao, which are based in Beijing, were each fined 2.5 million yuan ($390,000) on May 10 by the city's market regulator for false and misleading promotion and advertising, according to a statement by the State Administration for Market Regulation.

Zuoyebang falsely claimed on its website that it is cooperating with the United Nations and also falsified users' evaluations, while Yuanfudao falsely claimed it offered one-on-one tutoring by head teachers.

The companies also falsified their teachers' experience, and during promotional events advertised online courses with misleading prices, the statement said.

Regulatory authorities will step up supervision of after-school education companies and crack down on their misconduct, it added.

The new clampdown follows concern over competition to ensure that children go to good schools, which has triggered anxiety among parents and students. Parents have also been unhappy with misconduct such as false advertising and difficulty in obtaining refunds for lesson fees.

During this year's annual two sessions political meetings in March, concerns were raised that too much after-school tutoring could affect students' physical and mental health.

Such fears were voiced by many deputies to the National People's Congress and members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, who called for stricter regulation of the sector. Some even suggested a ban be imposed on the tutoring industry.

President Xi Jinping emphasized "resolute rectification" of issues attracting widespread public attention in the education sector, along with behavior that harms people's interests in the name of education.

Joining national political advisers from the education, medical and health sectors for a joint group meeting during the two sessions, Xi stressed the importance of reforming the evaluation system and developing education that people are satisfied with.

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