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Authorities urged to root out academic tutoring

A girl takes an English course online at home in Beijing on March 30. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

The Ministry of Education has asked local education authorities to differentiate academic tutoring companies from non-academic ones to prevent institutions from conducting curriculum-based training under the guise of non-academic tutoring.

The differentiation should be based on the purpose, content and evaluation method of the tutoring, the ministry said in a guideline issued on Monday.

Tutoring companies that aim to improve students' academic knowledge and grades, teach academic subjects or evaluate students based on their exam results should be classified as academic ones, it said.

Local education authorities should organize expert teams not involved in the tutoring companies to distinguish the differences, the ministry said.

Tutoring companies should conduct self-examination and evaluation and not try to hide behind new identities to avoid regulation, it added.

An earlier notice issued by the ministry stipulated that tutoring institutions cannot conduct academic tutoring in the name of consulting, cultural promotion or housekeeping.

No home tutors or crowdfunding tutors are allowed and there should be no academic tutoring during study tours, academic research tours, summer camps or tutoring for nonacademic subjects, the notice said.

A central guideline issued by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council in late July banned academic tutoring on weekends, and during national holidays and winter and summer vacations.

Local governments should stop approving any new academic tutoring companies for students in compulsory education, and existing institutions should register as nonprofit institutions.

They are not allowed to go public for financing, listed companies should not invest in them, and foreign capital is barred from such institutions.

The ministry said a course titled "English reading and performance "offered by a tutoring company in Shanghai was identified by an expert team as academic tutoring because it aimed to improve students' English proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing, which coincides with the purpose of school English teaching.

Another course titled "Chinese classics appreciation" was also classified as academic tutoring because it included learning large numbers of Chinese characters and rote memorization of classic poems and essays, the ministry said.

Leading tutoring company New Oriental Education and Technology Group plans to stop tutoring services for students from kindergarten to grade nine by the end of this year, the company said on Monday.

Its K-9 academic tutoring service accounted for about 50 to 60 percent of its revenues in the past two financial years, it said.

Another major tutoring company, TAL Education Group, said on Friday that it also plans to stop grade 1-9 academic tutoring by the end of this year.

zoushuo@chinadaily.com.cn