The CEO of the New Oriental Education & Technology Group announced Sunday evening Asia time that his company would be fully exiting the once-lucrative K-9 tutoring business. Instead, Yu Minhong revealed that New Oriental will jump into the agriculture ecommerce business.
Yu said through a livestream on social video platform Douyin that New Oriental will shut down in 1,500 locations. Just a few days before, the company had donated 80,000 sets of school desks and chairs to schools in the countryside.
Yu said the company will set up an online marketplace for agriculture products, and he and hundreds of New Oriental teachers will help farmers in rural China peddle local specialties via live broadcasting. Yu framed the transition as an act to support Xi Jinping's grand strategy of Rural Revitalization.
This major operational transition for one of China's leading after-school tutoring companies came on the heels of Beijing's crackdown on the private tutoring and ed-tech industry. The Wall Street Journal on Monday reported that Beijing plans to grant over a dozen licenses to tutoring companies that offer after-school classes to K-9 students, but the firms are required to run as nonprofits.
Several major Chinese tutoring and ed-tech companies are in discussions with China's government to resume K-9 tutoring, according to The Wall Street Journal. New Oriental, however, has chosen to close its biggest business and move onto a new sector that aligns with the Chinese central government's agenda. New Oriental will stop providing after-school classes to K-9 students by the end of November. Yu, a pioneer in the once-thriving tutoring industry, had said earlier on WeChat: "The era of private tutoring has ended."