On March 18, the Shuimu Longhua Preparation School in Beijing’s northwestern Haidian district declared that it would close its doors this week due to “expired qualifications.” It had one of the most competitive extracurricular class packages available, and was one of the only ways primary school children could ensure a spot in the prestigious “experimental class” at the Tsinghua University Affiliated High School.
However, “expired qualifications” was not the real reason for the shutdown. According to a Feb. 27 punishment notice issued by the Haidian government, Shuimu Longhua was shut down for “disorderly management of private schools, which has adverse social impact.” After resisting the Ministry of Education’s broader crackdown on extracurricular studies, underway since 2013, the school’s closure could indicate that the government is really getting serious about “relieving the burden” on students.
Shuimu Longhua has been shut down before, last year. At that time, Yang Dongping, director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute at the Beijing Institute of Technology, wrote that the center was a “black hole that must be removed” and a major problem. The closure gave people hope that the elementary education system would really see some reform — but that summer, Shuimu Longhua opened its doors again.