Chinese teacher running illegal after-school tutoring business caught in newspaper sting

ictures from a local newspaper investigation show students arriving for private tutoring at a teacher’s house after school hours.
PHOTO: Baidu

A middle-school teacher in eastern China has been caught breaking the law for charging students for tutoring, local media reported.

After receiving tip-offs from the public, inspectors from the Education Bureau of Huangshan, Anhui, went to a home in Tunxi District on Tuesday and discovered the teacher, surnamed Lu, was carrying out paid tutoring in violation of rules banning teachers form moonlighting as paid tutors for students, the Xinan Evening News reports.

The teacher, whose gender was not revealed, is from Tunxi No1 Middle School.

China's Ministry of Education bans teachers of primary and middle schools from conducting after-school paid tutoring, but it's common for many teachers to run tutoring businesses outside the classroom, partly because teachers' salaries on the mainland - especially those at public schools - are generally low.

In person and virtual after school tutoring by teachers is common in China despite a government ban.
PHOTO: Pexels

It is rare for teachers to get caught or receive punishment for tutoring outside school. The incident occurred against the backdrop of new regulations to reign in excessive extracurricular academic classes initiated by the central government.

The ministry issued a circular of new regulations on extracurricular study last week to reduce the intense pressure on students to excel and to reduce parents' anxiety about the cost and stress of educating their children and to support the country's new three-child policy.

In Lu's case, an undercover report by the newspaper showed that almost every day during school summer holidays, there were students carrying stationery bags visiting his house. They entered the house at the same time and would leave about two hours later.

Huangshan education authority said they had “zero tolerance” towards teachers’ engagement in paid tutoring, the report said. It said it would investigate the case and punish the teacher if found guilty.

Parents told the newspaper that some teachers from the region’s high schools have been teaching students by charging fees for a long time, many of whom are from the same grade or the same school they teach.

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Some teach at their own homes, some teach online classes while some teach at extracurricular institutions.

Parents said the tutoring activity cost them a lot, as each class is at least 100 to 200 yuan (S$21 to S$42).

China’s internet users have been discussing the incident since it was reported on Tuesday evening.

"If paid tutoring is legal, why would teachers bother to pay attention to the students at school?" wrote a person on Weibo.

But some people are against the rule. "I am a parent and I really want to find a qualified teacher to teach my kid after class," another user said. "Now that school teachers can not teach after school. This would lead to higher prices at extracurricular institutions. The state government hopes to reduce kids' burden, but I still have to let my kid study hard. We have to do this because of the macro environment."

Xiong Bingqi, director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, said the authorities should take parent's demand for after-school tutoring into consideration.

"If parents still have this demand but can't send students to extracurricular institutions during summer or winter vacations [because of the requirement from the central authority's rule], these classes will be held underground. There will possibly be a trend that parents hire private teachers," Xiong told the South China Morning Post.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.