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China to set prices for after-school tutoring

Beijing aims to ease pressure on students and reduce education costs

China has started cracking down on off-campus tutoring.    © Reuters

SHANGHAI (Reuters) -- China will set price ranges for after-school tutoring classes and will probe institutions' costs like teacher salaries, the state planner said on Monday, after the country barred for-profit tutoring in any school subject earlier this year.

Local authorities will set benchmark fee standards and floating ranges that will take into account factors such as local economic conditions and family affordability, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement.

The new rules announced in July are aimed at easing pressure on 6- to 15-year-olds in compulsory education as well as reducing the cost burden on parents, part of an effort to boost the nation's birth rate.

The rules require all institutions offering tutoring on the school curriculum to register as non-profit organisations, triggering when they were announced a heavy selloff in shares of tutoring companies traded in Hong Kong and New York, including New Oriental Education & Technology Group and Koolearn Technology Holding Ltd.

The NDRC also said localities should look into the costs of these tutoring institutions and ensure the salaries of their tutors are not significantly higher than those of teachers at the local public schools.

"All localities must insist that off-campus tutoring on the school curriculum should have public welfare attributes, fully consider how it relates to people's livelihoods and aim to effectively reduce the education expenditure burdens of students and their families," the NDRC said in a statement.

China's education ministry said in a separate statement that scrutiny over the materials such institutes use to teach should be strengthened.

Staff responsible for compiling such materials must have a firm political stance, fully implement the ruling Communist Party's education policy and possess good morals, the Ministry of Education said.

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