China Rolls Out Pilot Ban on Private Tutoring During Summer Vacation

Public schools and teachers are expected to step up to fill the gap in several major cities including Beijing.

China Rolls Out Pilot Ban on Private Tutoring During Summer Vacation

The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on Friday signaled it would press ahead with a crackdown on private tuition schools and other practices requiring financial input from parents in a bid to encourage couples to have more children.

In an economic work meeting on Friday, the Politburo of the CCP Central Committee called on governments across China to implement the "three-child" family planning policy, and "improve supporting policies relating to childbirth, parenting, and education," state news agency Xinhua reported.

The communique came after the CCP Central Committee General Office and the State Council set out a slew of measures aimed at slashing homework and out-of-hours educational activities.

"No new subject-based off-campus training institutions are being approved for students in compulsory education, while existing subject-based training institutions will be registered as non-profit institutions," the "opinion" said.

"Subject-based tutoring institutions are not allowed to be listed for financing, and capitalization operations are strictly prohibited," it said, ordering local authorities to set up supervisory bodies to monitor the behavior of tutoring schools, known as buxiban.

"Training institutions must not organize subject-based tutoring on national statutory holidays, rest days, or winter and summer vacations," the directive said.

Instead, schools are to strengthen after-school services, and funding for such operations must be plowed back into meeting costs, it said.

It also called for a ban on media, billboard, or online advertisements for tutoring.

The plan will initially be rolled out in nine regions, including Beijing, as a pilot scheme, the directive said.

The move comes amid growing concern in China over a phenomenon dubbed the "chicken baby" syndrome, referring to parents dosing their children up with chicken-based food supplements to boost stamina for all of the extra hours of study they expect of them.

More than 75 percent of students in primary and secondary education attended after-school tutoring in 2016, the most recent industry figures showed, and the need to hothouse children privately to get them into the best schools was criticized by CCP leader Xi Jinping in March as a barrier to boosting birth rates.

Reform, rectification

On June 15, the Ministry of Education set up a new department to monitor off-campus education and training provision, to implement "reforms to the off-campus education and training sector."

And the State Administration for Market Regulation announced on June 1 it would be "rectifying" tutoring services run by internet giants Tencent and Alibaba, fining the companies around U.S.$5.73 million for regulatory violations.

The moves come after a March 6 speech by CCP general secretary Xi Jinping, who hit out at "chaos" in the tutoring industry, calling it "a stubborn disease that is hard to manage."

"On the one hand, there is the desire for children to have a happy childhood, and enjoy physical and mental health," Xi told education sector delegates to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

"On the other, there is the fear that children won't be starting at the same point in the competition for good grades," he said, according to a March 18 commentary in the official People's Daily newspaper, also carried by state news agency Xinhua.

"The rectification and regulation of the private tutoring market must be strengthened so as to reduce the burden on students ... and to avoid undermining fairness in the public education sector," it said.

Independent economist Si Ling said the CCP wants to reduce the overall cost of parenting, to encourage families to have more kids.

"Only the Chinese government has the political will to bring in such a comprehensive package of measures," Si told RFA.

But he said the crackdown on tutoring may not be enough.

"[It would also need] welfare measures that allow parents to reduce costs, including free medical care," he said.

Costs passed on to parents

Current affairs commentator Fang Yuan said it is still unclear whether public schools will be expected to offer out-of-hours tuition to students in future.

If so, it is likely schools will seek to pass at least some of those costs on to parents eventually, he said.

"Far from reducing the economic burden on families, this could increase them if there is a monopoly," Fang said. "And the quality of education could suffer from the lack of competition."

The crackdown on tutoring will go hand-in-hand with changes to private education, with a directive ordering private schools run by prestigious public schools for profit to nationalize within two years.

China's fertility rate stood at around 1.3 children per woman in 2020, compared with the 2.1 children per woman needed for the population to replace itself.

But raising children in China is a costly business, with parents stretched to find money for even one child's education. While state-run schools don't charge tuition until the 10th year of compulsory education, they increasingly demand nominal payments of various kinds, as well as payments for food and extracurricular activities.

There are signs that the people who do most of the mental, physical, and emotional work of child-bearing and raising may not readily step up to solve the government's population problems, however.

In a poll posted to the official Xinhua news agency account on the Weibo social media platform after the announcement, 29,000 out of 31,000 respondents said they wouldn't consider having more children.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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Police in China’s XUAR Question Uyghurs For Attending Eid Prayers Without Permission

Authorities in Aksu round up people under 50 years old who were forbidden to pray on the Muslim holy days.

Police in China’s XUAR Question Uyghurs For Attending Eid Prayers Without Permission

Police in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region took in for questioning more than 170 Uyghurs who attended prayer services without permission from authorities during the Muslim Eid al-Adha holy days, a senior police officer said.

Authorities in Aykol township of Aksu city (in Chinese, Akesu) city allowed only Uyghurs over the age of 50 to participate in worship services during the holiday on July 20-23, the officer from the district’s police station told RFA last week.

Many of the 12 million Muslims in the XUAR celebrated Eid al-Adha, also known as Qurban Heyt (in Chinese, Gurban), with prayers, dancing and the slaughtering of goats or sheep as a religious sacrifice.

Authorities in a number of city and county centers throughout the XUAR had staged controlled displays of religious worship to counter accusations of widespread rights abuses in the region by opening a few long-shuttered mosques to the public during the Eid holy days to present a semblance of normalcy.

The senior police officer in Aykol told RFA that more than 170 Uyghurs accused of violating regulations regarding Eid prayers are currently being held in custody, though he said he could not comment on their whereabouts or whether they were being detained in “re-education” camps or detention centers.

“I believe there are more than 170 people,” he said.

“We told older people they could pray and young people they could not — those under 50,” he said.

Township residents said that authorities had taken “many neighbors” in for interrogations, but could not provide an estimate.

Authorities also conducted street patrols, raids of shops, and home searches as measures to control Uyghurs’ actions during the Muslim holy days, said the police officer.

Chinese authorities are believed to have held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking minorities in the XUAR in a network of detention camps since 2017. Beijing says the camps are vocational training centers aimed at combating religious extremism in the region, though inmates are held against their will and subjected to political indoctrination and serious human rights abuses.

Neighborhood spies

Following this year’s Eid prayers in Aksu, police checked the identification cards and searched the homes of those who attended prayer services to verify that they were over 50 years old, said an Aykol resident who declined to be named for safety reasons.

Those whose IDs contained birth date discrepancies as well as Uyghurs that the police suspected of lying about their age were hauled in to the police station for questioning, the person said.

Local police did not go to the mosque themselves to investigate those attending prayer services, and instead used neighborhood spies who serve as the heads of units comprising 10 households each to learn whether some people had prayed secretly at home, other residents said.

Authorities placed black hoods on the heads of those who were reported on suspicion of having prayed illegally during Eid and took them away, they said.

Other township police officers contacted by RFA, including those from the Gulbagh Police Station in Kuchar (Kuche) county, Aksu prefecture, declined to answer questions about the situation.

A previous investigation by RFA found that since 2017 only individuals 60 years of age or older had been allowed to pray in Atush (Atushi), in the XUAR’s Kizilsu Kirghiz (Kezileisu Keerkezi) Autonomous Prefecture, and that authorities had detained violators in a camp.

“We say that people who are very old can pray, older men — people who are older than 60. They don’t even allow young people to go into the mosques,” a security officer from Suntagh village in Atush city previously told RFA.

“If people break the law we turn them over to the village brigade,” she said. “The village brigade takes them for re-education. Then we notify the family over the telephone.”

Religious restrictions for Eid al-Adha were somewhat eased in city and county centers this year, though they continued to be strictly upheld in villages and in countryside as they have in previous years, said a source familiar with the situation, but who requested anonymity to be able to speak freely without retaliation.

The regulations were aimed at preventing unrest and preserving stability by ensuring that Uyghurs did not create any incidents during the religious period, though the XUAR has not had any such protests or unrest since the beginning of the mass internment campaign.

In most townships throughout the region, at least one person from each Uyghur family remains in some form of detention, giving their relatives little reason to celebrate religious holidays, the person said.

According to an arrangement by China’s central government, various prefectures and townships in the XUAR introduced their own regulations for Eid al-Adha based on local conditions, the source said.

Reported by Shohret Hoshur for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by the Uyghur Service. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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