Sep 11, 2021
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China: not turning children into a vehicle for capital creation

Improvement of the educational and educational environment in the PRC

The beginning of the academic year in the PRC coincided with a profound reform of the out-of-school education system. This system grew in parallel with public school education, until it turned for parents into a powerful factor in the all-round development of the child, which began to complement the school.

The out-of-school system consists of a huge number of private tutoring courses in academic subjects, circles, master classes on interests, sports sections. At the same time, the out-of-school system has long remained in the shadow of the regulatory activities of the Chinese state.

Now China is putting things in order in this area. The relevant decisions were taken in May at the 19th meeting of the CPC Central Committee on the Comprehensive Deepening of Reforms.

The essence of the reforms is to increase the availability of high-quality secondary education for children from low-income families. For this, it is planned to align the opportunities for their access to in-depth study of academic subjects with those of wealthy families. The center of gravity of advanced training is being shifted to public schools so that all students, regardless of parental income, can receive such training not through expensive private courses, but within the walls of the school, free of charge or at a reasonable cost. It is also planned to encourage schools to organize additional all-round development of children in sports sections and hobby groups, without giving this direction to the mercy of private out-of-school education.

Thus, the role of inequality in property is reduced, and the financial burden on the families of Chinese students is reduced. At the same time, it is planned to solve the long-overdue task of reducing the educational overload of students, which parents themselves create for them.

The measures are proposed revolutionary. Out-of-school institutions will not be able to provide their services on weekends, holidays, during winter and summer holidays. The emphasis on in-depth study of school subjects is transferred to the walls of the school. Public schools are focusing on offering more extracurricular activities, including sports.

From now on, private out-of-school institutions cannot raise funding through the placement of their shares on the stock market. They are prohibited from attracting foreign capital.

The crux of the problem: “As capital rushed into the lucrative private sector of education (extracurricular. – V.P.), the value orientation of some educational institutions shifted from “teaching” to “profit”, turning students and their parents into a means of creating capital ”. The measures taken solve this problem, driving out market relations from the field of education and upbringing.

The prerequisite for such radical measures was the change over the years of reforms in family attitudes towards children. With the growing prosperity of the PRC population, the main thing for parents was to invest in the quality development of the child – in his education and health. In this situation, the huge population of China creates an excessively high demand – incomparably higher than in other developed countries – for studying in a good school, in a rating university and, accordingly, in the struggle for a prestigious, highly paid job.

Parents invest a lot of money in the development of their child, which is charged by private paid out-of-school education. Over the decades of China’s economic growth, this type of service has become a highly profitable industry. Her motto was a warning to parents: “You come, we teach your child; you don’t come, we train your child’s competitors. ” This drives up the demand and, accordingly, the prices for the services of the out-of-school education industry. The wealthier families found themselves in a more advantageous situation.

In fact, the network of out-of-school educational institutions in China has developed into a parallel high-income education system in addition to the national school system. Parents’ spending on tutoring courses in school subjects and all kinds of circles and sections already in primary school can reach about 47,500 yuan per year (approximately $ 7,000) per child in large cities. Tutoring fees per child can be around 30% of the family’s total annual expenses.

Parents’ enthusiasm for a variety of extracurricular courses, indeed, provides a comprehensive and high-quality training for Chinese youth, but difficult problems arise.

Firstly, such a situation negatively affects the increase in the birth rate even after the abolition of the “one child” policy, which, given the growth of life expectancy in the PRC, indicated the problem of rapid aging of the population. A significant number of couples are in principle ready to have two or more children, but due to the huge material costs for their education, they cannot afford it.

Second, access to quality education for children from low-income families and from remote areas of China is dangerously deteriorating. This reinforces the property stratification.

Thirdly, children systematically experience serious educational overload, which often harms their normal physiological development, creates psychological problems with socialization due to the lack of time for free communication with peers. After lessons at 15.00 – 16.00, the same tutoring courses, sports section or music courses follow and homework in the evening. The student also attends extracurricular courses on weekends. The situation is aggravated by the fact that a little free time, which sometimes falls to a Chinese student, he spends on computer online games.

The listed measures for the reform of out-of-school education should eliminate this. The ban on education on all days, except for workers, should stop the exhausting parenting race for as many extra-curricular courses, sections, circles for children as possible, save children from colossal educational overload, and parents from ruinous expenses.

In addition, reducing the cost of educating one child will remove one of the major obstacles to second and third births for married couples, which may become an important factor in solving the problem of rapidly aging population in China.

The shift from private institutions to the walls of public schools for more in-depth training of children in standard subjects should equalize the opportunities of families with different incomes.

The system of measures to improve the educational and educational environment is complemented by a complete ban on companies producing online games from providing services to minors on weekdays. Children will only be able to play online games for one hour on Friday nights and weekends. The new rules are widely hailed by parents as a decisive attempt to protect the physical and mental health of minors.

A side effect of the measures taken was the financial problems of the tutoring companies. Shares of US-listed after-school giants New Oriental Education and Technology Group and Gaotu Techedu have plunged nearly 90% following tight regulations. It will be difficult for small tutoring firms to find a new niche. And large tutoring companies are likely to reorient themselves to help parents in organizing family upbringing and education, for which the corresponding law.

Whether this experience could be applicable in Russia is up to specialized specialists to judge. However, given the similarity of the problems of ensuring a healthy environment around students in the PRC and the Russian Federation, the Chinese experience absolutely deserves the most careful study.

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