New rules ease burden on school students
According to the ministry, the combined efforts of central and local governments have resulted in the number of online academic tutoring institutions being cut by 84.1 percent and the number of offline players slashed by 83.8 percent.
Ten provinces and municipalities, including Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi and Liaoning, have reduced the number of such institutions by more than 90 percent, the ministry said, adding that all remaining entities must either become nonprofit organizations or close.
Guo Yihao, director of the education bureau in Nantong, Jiangsu province, said that by late December the city had just three academic tutoring institutions, with 491 having closed and 271 switching to other sectors.
Meanwhile, education authorities in Tianjin said the city no longer has any private providers of online tutoring, while 92 percent of offline players have closed.
Tutoring giants, including New Oriental Education and Technology Group and TAL Education Group, shuttered operations for children in primary and middle schools from Dec 31.
In a WeChat post on Jan 8, Yu Minhong, New Oriental's founder and chairman, said the company's revenue declined by 80 percent last year and its market capitalization fell by 90 percent. He noted that severance payments for laid-off employees, tuition refunds and costs for terminated leases for teaching sites totaled almost 20 billion yuan ($3.14 billion).
He added that finding a new direction will be key for the company this year, so it has increased investment in tutoring courses for college students and in teaching Mandarin overseas.
To that end, on Dec 28, Yu hosted his first livestreaming e-commerce session on Douyin, a popular short-video platform, selling agricultural produce to explore new business opportunities.
During the session, he said the company plans to launch a livestream e-commerce platform as part of its efforts to diversify operations.
In a separate WeChat post, the company said it decided to launch the platform, because Yu was born and raised in the countryside and he wants to help farmers explore new channels to sell their produce.