A new crackdown on China’s out-of-school tutoring industry by the communist regime includes a ban on using foreign teaching materials.
China experts say it’s another way for the regime to tighten its ideological control over how Chinese students think, including all areas of education.
China’s Ministry of Education officially released a document that outlined the new rules for extra-curricular tutoring institutions on July 24.
The document stipulates that training institutions are strictly prohibited from providing educational programs devised overseas. Most training institutions use self-published teaching materials, while some English training institutions use foreign teaching materials.
“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is particularly wary of the off-campus training industry, where students have a desire for knowledge and a sense of justice,” China expert Xue Chi told The Epoch Times Chinese language edition.
Xue said that the CCP’s fundamental motivation for doing so is its rejection of “Western” values, especially those of the United States and its Constitution.
“The CCP reforming after-school training institutions is about bolstering its ideological fortress,” Xue said.
This isn’t the first time the communist authorities have banned textbooks from overseas.
In June 2019, China’s Ministry of Education issued a notice stating that four AP exam subjects, including U.S. history, world history, European history, and humanities history, would be suspended from 2020 at open examination sites in China.
Earlier in September 2018, the Ministry of Education requested that local education departments conduct a survey of primary and secondary school textbooks, and ban independent curriculums by individual schools and overseas textbooks.
Beijing also imposed other strict rules, such as tutoring institutions being prohibited from raising capital through the stock market, listed companies being prohibited from investing in tutoring, and foreign investors being prohibited from investing in tutoring businesses through mergers, acquisitions, and setting up franchises.
As a result, China Concepts stock in the education sector plunged on July 23 in both Hong Kong and U.S. stock markets.
Some training providers suspended their IPO plans, including the Yuanfudao (Yuantiku) tutoring institution, an online exercise database valued at $15.5 billion, and Zuoyebang, an online tutoring platform backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which is valued at at least $500 million.
A July 23 report in the 21st Century Business Herald cited a Chinese commentator saying that the new rules “basically blocked the way for companies such as Yuantiku, Zuoyebang, and VIPKID.”
VIPKID is a one-on-one online English tutoring service involving North American instructors.
“The regulatory governance on the education and training industry is unprecedentedly stringent,” commented China International Capital Corporation (CICC), the first Chinese-foreign joint venture investment bank in mainland China.
The Chinese authorities’ overhauling of training institutions is probably aimed at achieving “complete” and “full” control over students’ minds, Xue said.
“The CCP regards ideology and education as strategic ‘fronts,’ and now, it is getting more and more extreme, with brainwashing starting with children.”
China’s Education Policy Reverses
China’s education policy has been polarized for two decades. In contrast to Xi Jinping’s order that out-of-school institutions must register as non-profits, education policies under the former CCP leader Jiang Zemin were to promote the “industrialization of education,” in which the products of education had to be commercialized, marketed, and made for profit.
After Chen Zhili became China’s education minister in March 1998, school fees rose steadily. In 2003, primary and secondary education became the second most profitable industry in China, chasing real estate.
An article published in July 2004 in China News Weekly revealed that the Chinese authorities promoted the industrialization of education in order to divert pressure on the CCP to invest in education. This saw the proliferation of “get rich quick” schemes in education products and services that can characterize the learning environment on campuses and wider society.
From the promotion of profit-making in the education industry to the prohibition of profit-making by off-campus institutions, the CCP’s education policy has undergone subversive changes in the last two decades. But in terms of controlling free thought, the CCP’s ideas have remained unchanged.
Xi’s regime wants to bring in line off-campus training institutions and ban students from using foreign teaching materials to prevent the entry of Western ideas.
Jiang, in his era, used the regime’s direct control over the content of student textbooks to spread the Party line when he needed to secure national support for his policy to eradicate the peaceful Falun Gong spiritual practice, which was practiced by around one in 13 Chinese at the time.