China has been carrying out comprehensive inspections of all cram schools to ensure that those not meeting government standards make prompt corrections by the end of this year, the Ministry of Education said on Thursday.
As of Wednesday, more than 400,000 cram schools from across the country had been inspected, Lyu Yugang, director of the ministry's Basic Education Department, said at a news conference in Beijing.
Inspectors have found that 273,000 cram schools were not up to the standards, and 248,000 of them have had their programs changed to bring them in line, Lyu said.
Beijing's education, civil affairs, human resources and social security, and market regulation departments have inspected more than 12,600 cram schools, and 93 percent of those found to have problems have made necessary changes, said Feng Hongrong, deputy inspector of the Beijing Education Commission.
After corrections are made, which is expected by year's end, the city will carry out a second round of inspections in January to make sure the changes hold, he said.
Some training institutions have quietly changed the name of their courses in an attempt to duck the inspections, but authorities will invite more experts to carry out unannounced inspections, with violators dealt with seriously, he added.
In February, the Education Ministry and three other ministries jointly issued the first of a series of guidelines to regulate providers of after-school classes.
"Teachers who lure or coerce students to attend after-school training classes will be dealt with seriously or even stripped of their teaching credentials," the guidelines said.
They added that institutions should not teach anything outside the syllabus, and they should submit their course plans, enrollment targets and class hours to local education authorities for approval.
They are not allowed to organize graded examinations or conduct competitions for primary or secondary school students. In addition, the training results from these institutions cannot be used as criteria for future enrollment in primary or middle schools, the guidelines said.
Wang Meng, the mother of a fifth-grade student in Beijing, said she welcomed the government's moves to regulate the cram schools, but she still has concerns.
"Although I really want my son to have more time to play, I have to remind myself to be rational," Wang said. "Only by entering a key middle school can he study at a key high school and later at a good university. There's no other option."
To qualify for admission into a key middle school, he has to study hard now, she said.
Her son attends five weekly after-school tutoring classes, one each in Chinese, English and piano and two in mathematics, and the family spends around 100,000 yuan ($14,500) a year on such classes. "When it comes to education, every family is a 'rich' family," she said, indicating that families will scrape up as much money as they can for extra instruction.