Amid big changes, it’s time to talk about how China’s edtech industry will be reshaped

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In 2021 when COVID-19 cannot be completely eliminated, the education industry in China has transitioned from uncertainties to an era of big changes.

K-12 private tutors have to wake from dreams of illusion when “the Opinions on Further Alleviating the Burden of Homework and After-School Tutoring for Students in Compulsory Education” (the “Opinion”) were published on 24 July.

Messages that these players can get across from the document include tutoring during the compulsory education period (from grades 1 to 9 in China) will be decapitalized, more provided by schools than private companies, and accessible to most students.

Looking back and forward, it is not difficult to notice that many sectors in China, including education and housing, are undergoing unprecedented changes over the past century.

Over more than four decades since China’s economic reform, or reform and opening up, China had always “given priority to efficiency with due consideration to fairness”. The country then experienced rapid growth and has become the second-largest economy in the world.

However, that also led to a widening social imbalance. Nowadays in China, a huge gap in aspects ranging from per capita GDP to household disposable income still exists between the top and lower-tier cities.

China, therefore, made a move to “give priority to fairness with due consideration to efficiency”, with ensuring more people to enjoy benefits and pursuing common prosperity becoming a top priority in top-level design, a systematic overall plan for the nation’s reforms from a strategic perspective.

That also demonstrates that a country needs to solve different social problems in different stages.

At the GET2021 summit, we will continue to concentrate on education, a topic closely related to a country’s economy and people’s livelihood. For most people, education is a major factor that affects employment, income, housing, medical care, childbirth, and pension, as well as other aspects.

China has witnessed an improved infrastructure over the past decades, which has not only ramped up production but also brought a significant reduction in the demand for manual laborers. Meanwhile, students who were enrolled in 1999 when China launched the college enrollment expansion plan, have not retired, and younger generations of college students continue to flood into the job market, resulting in an imbalance between talent supply and demand.

When water cannot be drained off, we can only make the pond bigger. However, jobs in the finance and the Internet sector, which are popular in China and usually sound decent and well-paid to graduates, are limited in numbers. At the same time, the society still needs a workforce to engage in technical and practical work that is in high demand for industrial production.

Therefore, it is necessary to create more jobs by boosting the real economy, while enabling finance, the Internet, and other sectors to grow sustainably. Compared with general education, vocational education focusing on learning a particular skill seems more important to supplement such talents.

China has taken some measures to solve the problem: diverting more students into vocational high schools based on their high school entrance exam scores; establishing an improved system to encourage more students to apply for vocational colleges; increasing the salary of technical employees, and improving their social status.

As China has been against absolute poverty over these years, people in China no longer have to worry about how to meet basic needs, but instead focus on how to improve life quality and seek spiritual fulfillment.

In the past two decades, education has accounted for a bigger part of household disposable income. The expenditure, to a certain extent, has become an “accomplice” to drain people’s wallets, and it is also a factor that leads to a decline in birth rates.

In addition, as the overall population in China is better-educated than before, the demand for talents correspondingly changes. Aptitude-based education, which pays more attention to the well-round growth of a child but not just scores of a specific exam, is in demand.

As we mentioned before, the remaining regional, urban-rural, and income disparity in China has pushed a large number of rural people to migrate to cities for a higher wage, contributing to the annual large-scale chunyun, or the Spring Festival travel rush. Some of these people are forced to leave their children behind, while some are struggling to live a stable life with their children in cities.

If the local city can provide enough jobs to enable these people to have a decent life, we believe few people are willing to leave their hometown. Today’s rural revitalization strategy requires the efforts of the whole society and even several generations to realize the goal.

The government has already stepped in to regulate the housing and healthcare sectors, followed by education as the current target. K-12 private tutoring is undergoing a sweeping regulatory storm to make education more accessible and relatively fair to most people.

At this year’s GET (Global Education Technology), a six-year-old summit held by JMD, we would like to discuss how China’s edtech industry would be reshaped as K-12 private tutoring is strictly regulated, and then explore chances in the market.

From Nov.15 to 16, GET2021 will be held in Beijing with the theme of Reshape China’s Edtech Landscape. We will invite speakers across the world to talk about topics ranging from K-12 tutoring, quality-based education, and vocational education, to global partnership, overseas market, and lifelong learning.

Due to travel restrictions, GET2021 will combine physical conferences with a “virtual” live streaming component for a global audience.

For more information, please visit our website.

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