Update November 8, 2016: This ban has passed and will be put into practice September 2017. Several affected schools are unable to comment at this time.
On Monday, October 31, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress read a third draft of proposed legislation that will block private schools from continuing to run as for-profit entities in China, according to news source Caixin.
The timing is particularly disconcerting, as Shanghai education authorities held a meeting on October 19 with 21 international and bilingual school principals to reinforce “a government rule that bans international schools attended by Chinese students from using imported curricula in their entirety,” explains XIaoqing and Rongde in a recent article.
So how will all these waves of political change affect your child?
Unfortunately there’s no straight answer for that question. It all depends.
The push to uphold the government ban on international curriculum is currently only Shanghai based, but there are off record rumors and whispers that the ban will move into Beijing.
If the proposal to ban private, for-profit schools in China passed, the implications aren’t as clear, and parents are skeptical of the usefulness of the ban.
“There are also some people who worry that when the school can not guarantee income, this may directly affect the quality of school education. Overall, the international school is relatively free to do what they need. They can introduce first-class foreign teachers, and establish first-class facilities. If they were to lower tuition, how can one choose between quality and fairness?” (Translated from this source.)
The proposal would require all for-profit schools to re-register as non-profit entities by September 2017. These schools would then need to submit their tuition rates for review. The original intention of the draft was to cause a drop in tuition costs and maintain fair education during the compulsory stage in China, grades 1 through 9. Kindergartens and grades 10-12 could continue in their for-profit status.
The irony is that the majority of expensive international schools are already registered as non-profit entities, which already submit extensive information to the Beijing Education Commission, including tuition rates. The only way to tell the difference between a private non-profit and a private for-profit is to ask administration. Sometimes even teachers and parents are unsure of their school’s status.
The only conclusive outcome is that about 10,700 schools would be affected, some perhaps would go out of business.