Teachers across China are being reported and punished for offering paid catch-up sessions to students amid an ongoing crackdown on the tutoring industry by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under Xi Jinping.
In one case, a teacher surnamed Lü in the eastern province of Anhui was “busted by a local education authority after parents exposed him,” the CCP-backed Global Times newspaper reported on July 28.
Lü was apprehended outside a “fancy villa” on the outskirts of Anhui’s Huangshan city, where he was hosting paid tutorial classes for his students.
“The Huangshan education bureau is currently investigating the case and it is expected to exert a severe punishment,” the paper said, adding that some high school teachers charge as much as 1,000 yuan (U.S.$153) per session for “catch-up” sessions.
In another case, a math teacher surnamed Yang, who had been honored as a “super-teacher” by local authorities, was found to be charging 120 yuan/hour for additional coaching. He was subsequently caught and ordered to pay back all of the tuition fees to parents, before getting fired from his job.
Former high-school teacher Wang Yu from the southern province of Guangdong said the students often request such catch-up sessions from teachers, and that teachers and students alike should bear consequences for breaking the new rules.
“The government is banning supplementary lessons outside school, because it’s assumed that the teachers can cover the necessary material in full in class,” Wang said.
“But students’ ability varies, and some learn fast, while other don’t, and need to have supplementary tutoring outside of school,” he said. “This should be a contract between two parties that each is equally responsible for.”
Wang said schools have also been charging pupils wishing to stay in school after formal class ends at lunchtime, to complete their homework.
“Some places have been charging five yuan a day if students stay in school for one to two hours to do homework [after class],” Wang said. “I calculated this to estimate that a school makes around … 1.8 million yuan annually from these afternoon service charges, and that doesn’t include the lunch-break fee [to take a siesta in school before doing homework].”
“[This is now happening] because of the ban on out-of-school tuition,” Wang said.
Politically motivated ban
Current affairs commentator Guo Baosheng said the tutoring ban was politically motivated.
“The reasoning behind these new regulations wasn’t justified, and came purely from political considerations,” Guo said. “It seems that China’s education system has failed to instill any moral values in anyone; it seems to have made them worse.”
On June 15, the Ministry of Education set up a new department to monitor off-campus education and training provisions, to implement “reforms to the off-campus education and training sector.”
The CCP leadership signaled on July 30 that it would press ahead with a crackdown on private tuition schools and other measures aimed at slashing homework and out-of-hours educational activities.
Training institutions were banned from offering subject-based tutoring on national statutory holidays, rest days, or winter and summer vacations, the directive said.
More than 75 percent of students in primary and secondary education attended after-school tutoring in 2016, the most recent industry figures showed, and the need to hothouse children privately to get them into the best schools was criticized by CCP leader Xi Jinping in March as a barrier to boosting birth rates.
And the State Administration for Market Regulation announced on June 1 it would be “rectifying” tutoring services run by internet giants Tencent and Alibaba, fining the companies around U.S.$5.73 million for regulatory violations.
The moves came after a March 6 speech by CCP general secretary Xi Jinping, who hit out at “chaos” in the tutoring industry, calling it “a stubborn disease that is hard to manage.”
Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.