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July 16, 2019

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Spotlight on online courses

Shanghai is to launch a citywide inspection of organizations providing online training and establish a credit management system to better regulate them, the Shanghai Education Commission announced yesterday.

The announcement was made after six central government departments, including the Ministry of Education, the Cyberspace Administration of China, the Ministry of Public Security and the National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications, released a guideline to enhance regulation of online cramming schools to ensure a healthy teaching environment and reduce the burden on students.

Ni Minjing, vice director of the Shanghai Education Commission, said that Shanghai will work out a plan as soon as possible to carry out a citywide inspection of online training organizations. The commission will also implement a comprehensive system for management of online and offline cramming organizations.

He said the city will explore more effective management measures, such as a single-purpose prepaid card management system with supervision and insurance to secure consumers’ interests and a credit management system where good-performing organizations will be rewarded with credits while illegal ones will be punished.

“There are too many online training organizations with uneven quality,” said Ling Yun, mother of a six-grader. “I have bought many courses online for my daughter but few of them were satisfying. But you cannot know until you take the classes as the organizations all have advertised themselves very well. I’m looking forward to seeing an official whitelist or blacklist so that I can make fewer such mistakes in the future.”

Adelaide, another mother, said she wanted the administrators to enhance supervision of organizations’ funds as she had spent about six months to get a refund of around 8,000 yuan (US$1,160) after her daughter quit an online English-speaking class as the teacher had a bad accent.

Lu Yugang, director of the Ministry of Education’s basic education division, told a press conference in Beijing yesterday that a campaign since February last year had brought the vast majority of offline training organizations under official supervision. The new guideline targets online training so as to further reduce the after-school burden on students.


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