(Yicai Global) March 17 -- China’s cyberspace watchdog has set up a special body to toughen supervision of the country’s online education sector which has burgeoned into a CNY350 billion (USD53.8 billion) market in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak last year.
The Cyberspace Administration of China and the China Federation of Internet Societies formed the special committee yesterday to improve the certification process and standards, CCTV News reported, citing Zhang Yong, deputy secretary-general of the CFIS.
The report noted that the widespread use of online teaching during the pandemic led to scores of off-campus training institutions and tutoring apps adopting the online learning model. But that was accompanied by problems such as online teacher qualification fraud and dishonest promotions.
The number of people using such platforms reached 342 million as of December, 34.6 percent of all netizens in the country, according to China Internet Network Information Center data.
The committee will also strengthen the sector’s self-discipline and regulation to deal with illegalities by tutoring platforms, such as denying refunds and making off with clients’ money. In addition, it will also develop standards and norms for the sector in response to the uneven qualifications of e-tutors while organizing the evaluation and certification of practitioners.
Intense competition caused by excessive marketing has diverted focus from investment in teachers and courses, CCTV said. The recent earnings reports of some listed online educators reveal that their biggest outlays are not on curriculum development or salaries, but on self publicity.
The annual marketing spend last year at NetEase’s Youdao and rival GSX Techedu, for example, was about 6.3 times and 7.9 times that of curriculum development.
Editor: Peter Thomas