K-12 International Conference and Expo in Beijing
The 2nd K-12 International Education Conference was held in Beijing in May. It was initiated by a consortium of education groups affiliated with 3 prestigious foreign language study universities: Beijing Foreign Language University, Shanghai Foreign Language University and Guangzhou Foreign Language University, as well as Shengtai Education Investment Group (which has invested in at least two private schools in Zhejiang and Shanxi). All of the organizers are actively involved in K-12 education with a number of affiliated high-schools. The organizers of the conference were ISchoolEdu, Shenghua International Education and Technology Development, Yuloo Education, and JZB of TAL Education.
Presidents and party secretaries of the organizing universities all made speeches, and the conference invited key note speakers such as YU Minhong, founder of a Nasdaq-listed language training company; ZHU Yongxin, advocate of the “Learning Center”; ZHOU Lan, founder of Fusi Capital, that invests in Canadian schools in China; and the Aidi school, which teaches curriculum from Western Australia; as well as WANG Lei, founder of Puzzle Capital, who is determined to build an education community and invest only in education.
The speakers expressed their positive attitudes towards investing in the international sector of K-12, which has not only shown rapid growth, but also shows strong potential for future growth. Several speakers pointed out that despite policy barriers, there are many innovative ways to ensure the success of grafting education and capital investment together, even in the highly regulated Year 1-9 compulsory education sector. There exists a heterogeneous situation in terms of policy: bilingual schools are highly restricted in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, but are welcomed by 2nd and 3rd tier cities. Experts also suggested using the term “schools for non-Chinese passport holders” instead of the current “international schools”, and using “international schools” for the largest segments: schools accepting both Chinese and non-Chinese. Currently there are nearly 1,000 international schools in China, based on the new terminology.