Decoding 2018 China’s Education Market | Why 2018 is “the Year of Education Policy”?

On Monday, we analyzed the bills of Chinese education consumption of middle-class families in first- and second-tier cities by indicating parents’ consuming propensity in 2018 and pointing out some future trends that could be referred to. In the second piece, let’s talk about policy. Policies laid out in 2018 regarding education space will be introduced to help overseas companies to catch up with governmental directions, providing insights to better cope with GR issues.

Policy, Technology, and Capital are the three factors that influence education. Although the reflection of policy applied to education is relatively long, it often plays a decisive role, especially in China.

2018 is a special year for the education industry, which has witnessed great changes in both public and private sectors. JMDedu has compiled several lists summarising nearly 30 most significant education policies issued in 2018 that may exert influence on overseas companies’ Chinese market entry, shedding light on understanding the trend of Chinese education in the following years and facilitating proper decision-making.

K12 Public Sector

Policies for K12 education in public sector could be mainly categorized into two stages: primary and secondary school; high school.

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There is no doubt that the hottest topic in high school is the new college entrance examination (Xin Goakao). In conjunction with this, New Curriculum Standard as well as new new textbooks to be adopted have been laid out in 2018.

The new curriculum emphasized the diversity of courses and students choices, in order to promote personalized education for all. Besides traditional Chinese culture, standard of general technology and information technology required robots, STEAM, artificial intelligence and other preliminary contents must to be added in textbooks.

Apparently, the new curriculum with a focus on robotic learning, STEAM and AI would lead to a series of changes, for instance, teachers as well as staff training, the requirement of new textbooks, and all relevant instruments and facilities to be in place aligning with the New Curriculum Standard. This may entail several years’ attempts and cooperation between different entities from both public and private sectors for further implementation.

On 25th December, Ministry of Education declared that students are strictly forbidden to bring personal mobile phones, tablets or other electronic products into classroom. In principle, paper homework should be the only official form to be used, and the time of using electronic products should not exceed 30% of the total teaching time. This action may pose a threat to those wishing to penetrate public school market with electronic education products.

In addition, the government put forward the policy to shut down all school apps which contain pornographic violence, online games, commercials or other content and links, as well as any apps designed to increase students’ homework by exam-oriented education measures such as homework copying, overweight exercise and exam results ranking. Meanwhile, all learning apps that have not been put on record or examined by government must be banned from being used on campus in the future, which greatly raises the bar for educational apps to enter public school.

K12 Private Sector

Policies regarding K12 sector are aimed at lightening students’ burden, which is always regarded as a trendy keyword in recent years. This move is mainly targeted at after-school tutoring schools. The notification issued in February points out that it’s forbidden to teach students by skipping the beginner level on purpose, or to compel students to participate in after-school training classes or agencies by missing key knowledge points deliberately in class.

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Besides, a stricter regulation system about after-school tutoring schools cannot be overlooked. According to the research by JMDedu, the Ministry of Education announced nearly 10 policies to emphasize the importance of regulation for these private training agencies.

After-school tutoring schools have been treated as a particularly important target by Chinese government this year, by several policies’ announcement and implementation. The first wave started in February with the official notification jointly released by four ministries; followed by the advice issued by State Council in August for regulating after-school tutoring schools from the following perspective: standards of setting, approval of registration, training practice and routine supervision. Besides, authority emphasized the necessary of Internet-based business license for all organizations that conducting training and education activities online. In November, government required online education and training institutions should be regulated in accordance with the management policies of offline training institutions.

In K12 space, under the circumstances of stricter policies, education products aimed at entering public school and even the whole private sector itself will be affected. From benchmark and product development, to the service after entering the school, the supervision of educational products have been gradually tightened by the ministry of education.

Although after-school tutoring agencies faced overwhelming restrictions in the field of K12 education, they have been encouraged by governmental policies to develop in the aspects of competence-based education, for example, linguistic competence, arts, sports, science and technology and research management, etc. Agencies could apply for the registration of legal persons directly, while the examination and approval procedures for the establishment of institutions would be simplified.

Therefore, it’s obvious that restriction is not the purpose. It’s not government’s goal to shut down all training agencies, but to regulate them. The transition time is mostly 3–5 years, and by the end of regulation, private education can be managed clearly and normally, which is also more efficient for parents to select a trusty assistance.

Higher Education

Colleges students and staff must have experienced a memorable year in 2018. Issues of dissertation corruption caught people’s attention nearly all over the world, and finally captured governmental attention to be addressed as a significant perspective in higher education.

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On October 17th, the ministry issued “40 articles on higher education” to address prominent problems, such as insufficient consolidation for Cultivation of talents, into central position, and requiring universities and colleges to treasure undergraduate education.

It’s clear that colleges shows their determination to revise and improve the management system of graduate dissertation, strengthen the responsibility of faculty and staff, and normalize the whole process management of topic selection, proposal and defense. To strictly implement the paper inspection and sampling system, and to establish and improve the concealed evaluation system, any action that violating laws or disciplines would be dealt with seriously.

In order to achieve this government’s plan, not only colleges and universities need to pay more attention to it, it also raises the awareness of private sector. Students in China only have few options to check their dissertation, such as CNKI(China National Knowledge Infrastructure), but resources in these network are quite limited, especially for articles written in foreign languages. Therefore, more authoritative academic tools about this field will be in high demand.

Another important part of policies targeted at higher education is encouraging artificial intelligence’s development and improvement in colleges. AI as well as some other new forms of technology have been increasingly trendy in the world in recent years, and Chinese government realized that colleges can be a perfect base to develop new technology.

AI action asked for more universities to conduct scientific research, talent training, and transformation in terms of accelerating the construction of artificial intelligence science and technology innovation bases, improving the layout of disciplines, as well as strengthening the construction of professional teaching materials.

Early Childhood Education

Since China lacked qualified kindergartens, the Ministry of Education started to publish policies in this perspective since 2007. There still remain some prominent problems for early childhood education, such as the difference in terms of access between urban area and rural area, and disparity in levels of different kindergartens, etc.

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The Ministry of Education and other three ministries and commissions jointly issued the opinions on the implementation of the third action plan on preschool education in May, setting a goal that universally-benefit kindergartens, which meet the standards of local government, charge affordable tuition fees, and guarantee equality of enrollment, account for 80% of the total by 2020. This means that some existing middle and low level private kindergartens will be compressed and transformed into this type of kindergarten, or be purchased .

On November 15th, the State Council pointed out that private kindergartens are not allowed to be listed whether separately or as a whole part of assets. Listed companies are not allowed to invest in profit-making kindergartens through stock market financing, or to purchase the assets of profit-making kindergartens in any forms.

On the one hand, early childhood education is the foundation for children’s development, for education, for the society, thus kindergartens should not be the tool for making money. On the other hand, early childhood education also sees the trend of building new models of kindergartens in China. The interest for international education, especially for early childhood years may contribute to the development of joint kindergarten establishment by China and overseas partner or online education platform.

Education Informatization

In terms of education informatization, an action was announced on April 13, aiming to basically realize the development goal of “three comprehensiveness, two high and one big” by 2022. “Three comprehensiveness” means that teaching application covers all teachers, learning application covers all school-age students, and digital campus construction covers all schools. “Two high” refers to the utilization of information and the general improvement of teachers would be high; the “one big” refers to the establishment of the “Internet + education” platform.

Cooperation with EdTech companies or Tech giants is a choice for government. For instance, Tencent’s “smart campus” has stepped into many schools, including K12 education and higher education, which combined students learning and life with internet and brought students much convenience. Until now, internet and modern digital technologies have permeated every sector in the education sphere, and there must be more in the future.

The rise of national awareness of technology, AI and academic reputation, could be found in policies announced in 2018 as well as governmental intention to regulate and normalize the private tutoring space. Besides, universally-benefit education resource is another key point in government’s plan. It can be seen that Chinese government is trying to address the uneven and inequality of education resource distribution by policy, both in public and private sectors.

What’s coming next?

Next week, we will further elaborate on 2018 Education Investment report and indicate the investment trend in 2019. Stay tuned to learn about those emerging EdTech Unicorns!

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Supporting the EdTech ecosystem in China & globally. Operated by JMDedu, the leading B2B industry media company in China. Website:

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