Jack Ma Takes Shot at Boosting China’s Education System

Wu Di, Chen Shaoyan and Pan Che

After revolutionizing e-commerce, Jack Ma says he has now set his sights on improving China’s problem-riddled education system.

The Chinese billionaire and founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has set up an experimental private bilingual school named Yungu, or Cloud Valley, in Hangzhou’s upscale Xi Hu (West Lake) district. The school offers classes from kindergarten (preschool) through senior high.

Ma’s investment of an undisclosed sum comes at a time when Chinese authorities have stepped up scrutiny of private money flowing into primary and middle schools. In November, Chinese lawmakers banned schools that offer the first nine years of compulsory schooling from operating as for-profit enterprises. This has forced many schools to reregister their primary and middle school units as nonprofits. It is unclear whether Yungu would follow the same approach. Responding to a Caixin query, Alibaba said “the school will comply with national law,” without elaborating.