After-class and off-campus educational training agencies come under tightened control

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In 2018, both the State Council General Office and the Ministry of Education (MOE) issued guidelines and circulars to ensure educational agencies providing extracurricular classes or off-campus training operate according to the rules. Three years on, issues of extracurricular activities agencies are once again in the spotlight.

During the period of ‘Two Sessions’ in 2021, according to the Caixin News, China Central Television (CCTV) was informed to remove all advertisements related to extracurricular classes or off-campus training agencies for the time being.

On the 31st of March, the MOE’s head of the Department of Basic Education Lv Yugang made it clear that one of the key tasks of the MOE in 2021 is to collaborate with other ministries and departments to take more effective measures to regulate after-class institutions. The priority of education should be children growing up with good mental and physical health, Lv said. The quality of education in schools should continue to be improved and after-class activities should play a complementary role to serve children’s education.

This trend of stricter regulations and more supervision of extracurricular activities has already affected the industry. Big companies such as Yuan Fu Da, Xue Er Si and Gua Gua Long, which belongs to ByteDance, have all suffered from the removal of their advertisements. Critics argue that in recent years, many after-class educational agencies have put their initial focus on profit-making and marketing, instead of focusing on the quality of their services. As problems of them have become more apparent, it is very likely that more restraints will be put on extracurricular activities and training institutions in the near future, potentially opening up opportunities for the nonprofit sector.

Some commentators say in the long run, tighter policies are beneficial for this industry. Under stricter policies, the low-quality, noncompliant and uncompetitive institutions will be forced out of the market which will create more space for other institutions to grow.

Journalists from Caixin noticed that although many advertisements were removed from the CCTV prorgammes, local channels still keep a close partnership with educational agencies cross the country. The existence of the National Entrance Exam system also means the market for these educational agencies providing after-class activities and training remains large.