OneSmart CEO Zhang Xi: Let Kids Become the Masters of Learning

Post the release of “Double Reduction”, as the reshuffling of education industry intensifies, the top players are struggling to wade through the transition, while the SMEs are facing even more challenges.

Pivot the strategic focus back to the one-on-one learning power training

In October 2020, OneSmart made a strategic adjustment to cut down on its side businesses and focus on its top-performing service, i.e., the one-on-one learning power training. Given that Juren was not part of OneSmart’s long-term core businesses, the former was restructured into New Juren Education Group at the end of 2020. OneSmart has since become a minority shareholder of New Juren. As a shareholder, OneSmart is not involved in the day-to-day operation of New Juren. The two companies thus operate independently.

According to Zhang Xi, one should never blindly follow the buzz. For OneSmart, the key is to return to what the company is best at and give up those that it is not. Whether it is online or offline, OneSmart should refocus on 1-on-1 family education and learning power training. “Even though we have no more than 100,000 students, we have been able to overcome the impact of COVID-19 and achieve steady growth because of our quality services and reputation.”

A comprehensive upgrade of personal all-round education: “learning through playing & playing through learning”

Personal all-round education becomes more widely-accepted after the “double reduction” has taken effect. However, this concept is not new. It appeared as early as the 1980s during the widespread debates on education reform. In 2006, the new Compulsory Education Law stipulated for the first time that "personal all-round education" should be implemented as a legal requirement in the national compulsory education policy. According to the Opinions on Comprehensively Strengthening and Improving Physical Education in the New Era and the Opinions on Comprehensively Strengthening and Improving School Aesthetic Education in the New Era---both were published in 2020---the percentage of points given to physical education in the high school entrance exam shall be increased. In addition, visual and performing arts are also to be included into the high school entrance exam pilot program.

In its comprehensive upgrading of personal all-round education, OneSmart has created projects such as "Smart Kids" and “Little Earth”. In "Smart Kids", students are introduced to a science and innovation-themed immersive learning experience, which enhances their learning interest, habit and ability through case studies. In "Little Earth", they are trained in “drama and public speech”, which allow them to be “perceptive, imaginative, creative, eloquent, confident and collaborative”. Our public speech training course is designed to help the kids to open up and express themselves, so as to encourage them to explore their creative potential.

Mr. Zhang also said that OneSmart aims to develop the deep learning power of students through LSF (Life, Society, Future) projects, which are based on real-life situations, trending social topics and future development. OneSmart offers a wide range of learning camps, including DNA life science camps, on-site visits at the biological research center of Jiaotong University, first-aid courses at Ruijin Hospital, and charity events for panda protection. With a focus on "learning through playing, playing through learning", kids are led by a team of professionals, from whom they can learn more about nature and the different cities and careers while develop their skills in sports, arts and teamwork, etc.

Since the key to comprehensive development is a strong and healthy body, OneSmart has been organizing all kinds of sports events over the years. The objective is to encourage the students to walk out of the classroom and embrace a balanced lifestyle. For instance, OneSmart has been working with the National Inter-school Federation of Sports, the National Youth Sports Federation, the China Secondary School Students' Sports Association and the local basketball associations of ten major cities to host “OneSmart Cup”, a renowned three-on-three youth basketball tournament. By integrating teenage physical education with sports competitions, OneSmart strives to make its own contribution to the grand vision of “a strong nation with strong youth”.

Since its inception, OneSmart has attached great importance to the role of family education in children’s growth and personal quality development. The company has created a professional learning and mental health assessment tool in cooperation with the School of Psychology of Peking University and East China Normal University. Relevant practical training has been given to the parents, which allows them to play a greater role in their children's growth. Moreover, OneSmart has launched a series of webinars on adolescent education called “Parenting Is Easy”, which offer useful instructions on parenting and improving family relationships.

Do what you are best at and focus on a niche market

Since its establishment in 2008, OneSmart has insisted on developing the "learning power for the future" instead of the "grade-oriented education". In fact, learning power is the representation of personal all-round education. It boosts up learning interests, habits and ability of students without making any distinction between the regular subjects---such as maths and sciences---and artistic and physical education. OneSmart will continue focusing on the one-on-one training to promote personal all-round education and leaning power development.

"From the very beginning, it has been my dream to create a great education company that allows every child to learn on their own and become the master of learning."

Finally, Zhang Xi said that the key task for the education service providers today is to transform their original “capital and profit-oriented” business model and be aware of the risks of expansion. The industry needs to fill in the gaps of public education and work to solve the problems faced by the families in need. As long as a company focuses on what it is best at, there will be plenty of opportunities to be tapped in its chosen market.