CHINA’S CRACKDOWN ON the tech sector has opened a new front — education technology (‘edtech’).
E-tutoring companies that teach compulsory parts of the school curriculum material can no longer make profits, accept foreign investment or list on stock markets. They are also barred from teaching foreign curricula and employing tutors overseas.
It is a radical upending of the fast expanding $100 billion edtech industry and more disruptive than anything that the fintech and platform app tech companies have been subjected to.
Motivations for the new measures are likely various: the general bringing to heel of the private tech sector that authorities fear is becoming too powerful; satisfying parents’ concern about the expense and stress of private tutoring necessary for their children’s advancement; and, no doubt, Party concern about children being educated outside the state system and thus at risk of not being schooled in the right values.
In a parallel initiative, state schools have been instructed to reduce homework and improve the quality of their after-class services.
Deteriorating mental health among children and young people, especially in cities, where educational, social and work pressures are demanding and competitive, is leading to more adolescents taking antidepressants. Authorities are aware that this could reflect badly on support for the Party.