The education regulator in China’s capital Beijing is extending its crackdown on private tutoring to mobile apps that target pre-school children.
“Mobile apps for the training and education of children at pre-school age should all cease operation,” Beijing Municipal Education Commission said in its draft of rules governing mobile education apps published on Wednesday.
A bellwether for China’s education reform, the commission will also enforce stricter scrutiny on tutoring apps targeting primary and secondary school students.
It says that companies operating apps involved in core subjects such as Chinese, mathematics, and English must obtain permits and pass course content reviews, and those that do non-core subjects such as arts and sports to file a record with the commission.
The type of feature that allows students to search for an answer by taking a photo of the question will be prohibited, the new rules said, citing concerns that such as feature would “hinder student’s ability to think independently”.
The commission is soliciting feedback on the rules until February 22.
Private Education Groups Rocked
In July last year Chinese officials announced an outright ban on for-profit tutoring services for core school subjects – in a bid to improve the quality of education, slash education costs and boost the country’s flagging birth rate.
In a year that featured many regulatory crackdowns across a whole range of sectors, this was one of the most dramatic.
The move caused New York-listed Chinese tutoring firm New Oriental Education & Technology Group to cut its workforce by 60,000 and its shares to plunge by 75% since late July.
And the Wall Street English language school closed its training centres last August and filed for bankruptcy.
Tencent-backed VIPKid, which claims to have 80,000 teachers in North America, now advertises English learning services for adults on its website.
And private education firms have been prohibited from launching an initial public offering (IPO) or hiring foreign teachers based outside of China.
• Iris Hong
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