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Online education to face same scrutiny as physical training institutes

By ZOU SHUO | | Updated: 2018-11-26 16:15
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An English teacher in the US interacts with a Chinese kid in Beijing during an e-class of the VIPKid, a Chinese online education platform. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Online after-school training institutions will be brought under the same regulations as traditional brick-and-mortar ones, the Ministry of Education said on Monday, as it further tightens scrutiny on the sector.

Online training for primary and middle school students are now required to submit class names, training content, schedules and class hours to provincial education authorities, the ministry said in a statement.

It said the names, photos, schedules and credentials of teachers should also be visibly placed on the institutions’ websites.

Provincial authorities will work with industry and information technology, and cyberspace affairs departments to strengthen regulation on online training and reduce the workload of primary and middle school students.

The ministry said on Wednesday that an online management platform will be launched to tighten scrutiny of after-school training institutions across China. It will carry information on licensed after-school institutions that provide programs for primary and middle school students.

Education authorities nationwide will also accept complaints from the public about after-school programs via the platform, and will blacklist poorly managed institutions, the ministry said.

China’s online education market is expected to experience growth exceeding 700 billion yuan ($100.8 billion) by 2025, according to a report that cited UBS Securities.

Chinese parents have become more accepting of online after-school tutoring, leading to fierce competition among education companies. VIPKid, an online education company, raised a record-breaking $500 million in its latest financing round in June.

In recent years, TAL Education Group and New Oriental Education and Technology Group, the top two players in China’s education industry, have transitioned from offline to online and placed great emphasis on online education.

“The company is striving to advance education through technology, hoping to build it into an education company combining online and offline in the next 10 years,” Zhang Bangxin, TAL’s founder and CEO said at a news conference in August.

In separate interviews with China Daily, both VIPKid and TAL declined to comment on the influence of the ministry’s latest move on their businesses. However, a public relations representative from TAL said the company will definitely comply with the ministry’s regulations.

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