On March 14, Xueersi Online, a digital platform owned by Chinese extracurricular education company Tomorrow Advancing Life (TAL), was accused of violating the Double Reduction policy that China previously implemented in an effort to alleviate student stress.
Media outlet Cailian Press reported that Xueersi Online’s literacy course includes material that is inconsistent with students’ development levels and promotes strategies for “coping with examinations.” This includes teaching Pinyin writing to kindergarten students, analyzing ancient poetry with junior students, and assigning challenging math problems to third-graders.
Xueersi Online’s app displays courses on “innovative thinking” and “humanistic creation” targeting kindergarten and primary school students. These classes cost 3,000 yuan ($435) for 12 to 13 sessions.
Xueersi Online’s physical locations in Beijing, Shanghai, and other areas attract many parents seeking weekend consultations. The waiting area is often crowded with parents waiting for their children to finish class. “Our main interest is improving our children’s Chinese, English, and math skills,” said one parent. Another parent reported that material taught by Xueersi Online appeared on their child’s final exam from the previous semester.
Xueersi Online issued a response on the evening of March 14, stating that they have conducted a thorough investigation into any improper advertising and inaccurate teaching material.
According to the statement, Xueersi Online conducted enrollment for its literacy training courses in compliance with regulations, and it ceased off-campus training for China’s compulsory education as of December 31, 2021.
Despite the quick response, TAL’s share price suffered a 10% drop.
The Double Reduction policy has significantly impacted the private tutoring industry, with TAL being heavily affected. TAL’s Q4 financial report for fiscal year 2021 revealed that their K12 business, including high school, accounted for 90% of the company’s total revenue. In the Q4 financial report conference call for fiscal year 2022, TAL announced that it had repositioned itself as an “intelligent learning solution provider” and had reorganized its business into three categories: educational services, educational technology solutions, and educational content solutions. The educational services category primarily includes providing literacy courses.