Course in 'cannibalism' a steep learning curve

Updated: 2013-07-30 09:57

By Yang Yang (China Daily)

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Theoretically, these consultancies are not allowed to provide education or training because they don't satisfy the strict rules laid down by the Ministry of Education.

In reality, the rules haven't stopped unauthorized players from entering the industry, whose market value rose to 960 billion yuan in 2012 from 760 billion yuan in 2010, according to a blue paper published jointly by the 21st Century Education Research Institute and the Social Science Academic Press under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. It further estimated that the market will surpass 1 trillion yuan this year.

Course in 'cannibalism' a steep learning curve

Parents help their children apply for English classes at a private educational establishment in Guiyang, capital of Guizhou province. Wu Dongjun / for China Daily

As the market has become increasingly crowded, the industry has been plagued by a raft of problems, including promotions and ads that misrepresent the educational backgrounds and teaching strengths of faculty members, exorbitant prices, courses and schedules that are changed without prior notice, and illegal operations.

The China Consumers' Association upheld 3,698 complaints about the private education industry in 2012, a rise of more than 8 percent from 2011.

However, there is no suggestion that any of the schools named in this story have engaged in underhand or illegal practices.

One extreme case illustrates the chaos in the education and training industry. In May, a man drowned while attending a "death-training course". In his quest to conquer a number of unspecified "fears", the man allowed instructors to repeatedly hold his head underwater for varying periods of time, with unforeseen, but fatal, results.

The unfortunate student had paid 30,000 yuan for the three-day course, according to the Southern Daily, which reported that the three "instructors" were secondary school graduates who had no appropriate qualifications, but had already overseen more than 20 similar courses in Guangzhou.