That’s why the recent changes in China’s education policies have been causing such a stir. In July, The state government announced a crackdown on companies which offer independent tutoring to students in order to help them pass exams, grapple with classwork, and so on.
The intention was to level the playing field for students across the country, further standardise the education system, and relieve the pressure on kids who are spending as much time in classes with tutors as they do in classes with teachers.
But for a sizable portion of the student population, the restrictions on offline and online extra-curricular learning will create more problems, not less. As one parent in Beijing has pointed out, the new tutoring restrictions will do little to resolve the “very limited” access to high quality education and ever-growing pressure on kids to outperform their classmates.
And she’s not alone: almost 70% of participants in a recent poll on Weibo (a Chinese blogging site and social media platform) expressed their reservations about the policy, arguing that it would do little to address their concerns for their kids’ education.
Until recently, parents had relied heavily on tutors to help their kids outside school-hours; for millions of students this was as routine as having to go to school itself. In fact, the government claims that it was over-reliance on these tutors which motivated them to make these changes in the first place.
But for many the extra-curricular boost provided by tutors was a necessity. Competition is so stiff, says another parent, that extra-curricular learning and studying is practically a requirement for any child who is simply looking to keep up with their peers.
But without the structure and regularity of extra-curricular sessions this responsibility will now fall on the parents, rather than professionals. For parents with more children, whose kids particularly struggle with a certain subject, and those who lack the spare time to teach from home themselves, the lack of options left available by this new policy can be frustrating and demoralising.
Despite their intentions, then, the government’s decision may well turn out to have the opposite effect. It’s possible that more kids could be left behind for want of help outside the classroom, and setbacks in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic could become more permanent issues if they can’t find the opportunity to catch up on what they’ve missed.
Schools are having to deal with the repercussions too: research in Hong Kong indicates that more closures are taking place as a result of the ever-increasing financial burden which they have been left to shoulder. And it’s because of this that teachers and other workers in the education sector have been facing difficulties: in July (the month the announcement was made) educators staged seven protests across Beijing, Changsha, and Nanjing – a sevenfold increase from the month before.
So what’s to be done if you’re a parent, a teacher, or – perhaps most importantly – a student? There’s no denying that things are going to change in the face of this new clampdown, and it’s perfectly natural to be a little concerned if you’re one of those who will soon be directly affected.
Fortunately, there are still ways to reduce the impact that these changes will have on kids’ learning. The biggest concern that occupies most parents – how they can give their children the chance to stand out from the rest – can still be addressed, and there’s no need to despair that the days of affordable and readily available extra-curricular learning are now completely over.
For one thing, the extra time which many students will now have on their hands can be channelled productively. If anything, pupils will now be able to explore the learning and revision styles which are best-suited to them: their free time can be treated as an opportunity to better themselves as learners and get familiar with new, more creative study methods.
What is more, help can still be offered to those who need it. Although prices for freelance tutors within China are becoming steadily more competitive, and parents in some cities are already being forced to pool their resources in order to hire them, access to cost-effective tutoring is still available.
Platforms like One2Ones offer parents and pupils direct access to tutors from all over the globe, with courses tailor-made for kids of each age group and designed to foster skills in any area; from maths and computer science to cooking and essay-writing. Their online platform and worldwide reach means that parents needn’t be restricted by the difficulties of finding tutors locally. Prices needn’t be an obstacle either: the ease of operating a virtual classroom means that tutors on One2Ones are easy to find and contact, and are under no pressure to overcharge for their services.
Overall, then, it seems that there’s one more addition to the long list of things which we will have to prepare for in the troubled year of 2021. But like so many recent challenges, this is another opportunity to face a set of sudden and dramatic head-on, ready to adapt for whatever comes. This is a chance for parents to explore new options for their kids’ education, and, if last year has been anything to go on, there can be no doubt that they’ll emerge from the experience stronger and even more committed than before.
Bloomberg. (2021, August 2021). 'China crackdown on tutoring sector leads to protests'. Retrieved from Aljazeera.com: https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2021/8/23/china-crackdown-on-tutoring-sector-leads-to-protests
Davidson, H. (2021, August 3). 'China’s crackdown on tutoring leaves parents with new problem'. Retrieved from theguardian.com: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/03/chinas-crackdown-on-tutoring-leaves-parents-with-new-problems
'LEARN NEW SKILLS TODAY, FOR TOMORROW™'. (n.d.). Retrieved from one2ones.com: https://www.one2ones.com
Ye, W. (2021, August 4). 'China’s harsh education crackdown sends parents and businesses scrambling'. Retrieved from CNBC.com: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/05/chinas-harsh-education-crackdown-sends-parents-businesses-scrambling.html