China's regulation and supervision of extracurricular after-school training has expanded to online training programs.
The Ministry of Education (MOE), together with five other central authorities, issued new guidelines on online after-school training Monday to specify the qualifications, requirements and supervision for such services.
The Chinese government has launched several rounds of inspections on physical after-school training institutions since 2018, trying to curb extracurricular programs that put children under too much pressure and cause unnecessary competition among students.
As the campaign tightened, some training providers went online in disguise, according to Wang Ming, deputy director of the National Center for Education Development Research under the MOE.
The new guidelines, therefore, are necessary to promote the healthy development of the Internet plus the education sector, said Wang.
Online training providers shall not offer courses beyond the official syllabus for elementary and secondary schools, while the courses shall remain proportionate to students' grades and individual competence, according to the guidelines.
To enable verification, the training content and data are asked to be kept for at least one year, while the livestreaming courses should be kept for no less than six months.
The education authority will also work to further disentangle enrollment for elementary and secondary schools from after-school training as a move to dissuade parents from sending their children to such courses, said Lyu Yugang, a senior MOE official at a press conference Monday.
The guidelines specify that online after-school training platforms must provide eyesight-protection user interface design, as well as parent control functions.
The duration of each online training session shall not exceed 40 minutes and the interval between two sessions should not be less than 10 minutes.
In addition, it requires live broadcast lessons for mainland students in compulsory education to be completed no later than 9 p.m. to give them enough sleep.
Teachers employed by online educational institutions should not be in-service teachers from primary and secondary schools but must hold corresponding teachers' qualifications, according to the guidelines.
Foreign teachers recruited by the after-school training institutions should comply with relevant national regulations, it says, adding that institutions must publicize information on their foreign teachers, including learning, work and teaching experience as well as teachers' qualifications.
The institutions should make information about both Chinese and foreign teachers public on their platforms and open to public supervision, said Lyu.
The guidelines require online after-school training institutions to submit materials to provincial education administrations for filing a record before Oct. 31.
Local authorities should inspect the filed institutions and propose suggestions for rectification by the end of this year, the guidelines say, adding that the institutions should also carry out internal inspections.
Institutions should have their problems rectified before the end of June 2020, or may face punishments from fines to being suspended or closed.
A supervision system shall be formed by the end of 2020 to oversee online after-school training programs and institutions in a well-conceived way and ensure that the institutions operate in an orderly fashion, according to the regulations.