Education authorities must use ‘visible hand’ to block ‘harmful’ apps from Chinese schools, says People’s Daily

  • China’s Education Ministry issued a notice on December 28 banning harmful apps from primary and secondary schools
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2019, 12:04pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2019, 10:34pm

China’s educational authorities need to take effective measures to prevent harmful apps from being used in primary and secondary schools, a commentary by ruling Communist Party’s mouthpiece People’s Daily said on Tuesday, reflecting ongoing concerns over online content as the country seeks to direct the use of technology to upgrade its schooling system.

China’s Education Ministry issued a notice on December 28 banning “harmful” apps from primary and secondary schools, including violent online games and apps considered to be commercial advertising. Enterprises that do not comply will be permanently banned from providing products to the education industry.

“The clean up and regulation of harmful apps is an important area where education authorities need to to use their visible hand,” said the newspaper. “All educational entities bear the main responsibility of undertaking the mission of reviewing and standardising campus apps and ensuring that apps allowed on campus are safe and healthy.”

The People’s Daily commentary comes amid a wider Chinese government “clean up” of what it considers harmful content on the internet, including some mobile games, as it strengthens efforts to prevent young people becoming addicted to online information. China’s online education market is forecast to grow 20 per cent annually, reaching 270 billion yuan (US$41 billion) in 2019, up from 156 billion yuan in 2016, according to statistics from iResearch and Decebo.

New technologies such as live-streaming, legitimate educational apps and online classes are being used in China to help elevate educational services to a new level as part of the nation’s embrace of big data and artificial intelligence.

People’s Daily also said that “treating all new technologies as monsters should be avoided.”

The commentary said the cleaning up of school apps provides an opportunity to inspire education departments to adopt new changes brought about by the central government’s Internet plus policy introduced in 2015, allowing new technologies to play a beneficial role in promoting the reform of basic education.

“Science and technology products are not born guilty,” the newspaper added. “In recent years, mobile phones and tablets have entered classrooms and have become tools for internet companies to access schools for profit. The situation reflects the problems brought about by new technology. How to make new technology a powerful assistant to improve education efficiency and avoid possible drawbacks has become the focus of attention of all parties,” it said.