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China’s extracurricular crackdown angers parents

On 4 October, parents and employees gathered outside the headquarters of OneSmart Education, one of China’s embattled after-school education companies, demanding their money. By 11 October, the board of OneSmart which, like many such companies, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, had approved ‘the suspension of all of the company’s education programmes and learning centres in China’.

OneSmart is just one of many companies to be badly hit by a government crackdown on the sector which has banned companies making profits from after-school courses for 6 to 15-year-olds covering mainstream school subjects including foreign languages. Teaching such subjects to pre-school children is also forbidden.

This has led to anger not only from staff, many of whom have not been paid for months, but also from parents who have paid fees in advance for classes that are no longer taking place.

Hundreds of parents whose children were enrolled at centres run by Shutoon English International, some of which have suddenly closed, have launched lawsuits against it. In one of the complaints, reported in the South China Morning Post, parents in Guangzhou are demanding refunds of between US$1,500 and US$15,000 per child.

Misleading advertising and hard-sell tactics designed to press parents to pay up front are among the reasons cited by Chinese authorities for the crackdown on the sector.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock
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Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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