Jukupedia Complete

While not everything has been said about Juku, obviously, I seem to have written about the results of my research to the extent that it has been suitable for a blog post and have no longer been adding new posts since April 2014.

I thank all readers for their attention very much and hope that you continue to find valuable insights about supplementary education in these posts.

Looking back on Jukupedia: Coverage

Over the course of actively writing posts for Jukupedia from 2011 to 2014, I covered many different topics in 116 posts, all but 2 of which I wrote.

Japan” and “Juku in Japan” were the categories I assigned most frequently to posts.

Other frequent topics were “supplementary education“, “supplementary education researchers“, “United States” and “Vancouver” as is clear from the tag cloud in the right margin.

Posts focused on supplemetary education in Japan primarily, but the context in  many different countries also received attention:

Looking back on Jukupedia: Readership

This blog represents the result from my research on the marketization of supplementary education in Japan, funded by a grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC),

I and some guest authors wrote posts here for three years from April 2011 through March 2014.

One way to judge whether my research has reached scholarly as well as public audiences is to have a look at the blog access statistics.

Readership for this Blog

In total, more than 8,500 users have read almost 20,000 pages (as of September 2016).

That figure will obviously continue to grow as search results will continue to lead readers to this site.

These 8,500 readers have generally read 1.6 pages and have remaind with the site for 1.5min on average, which strikes me as a reasonable time for a blog post, given that this average would include some access by bots (preyumably) and some readers who recognized quickly that they had mis-navigated.

Rougly 20% of the readership was based in Canada and the U.S. each. An eigth  of all readers originated in Japan. The UK, Germany and India were next in terms of top originating countries.

A fifth of traffic arrived at the blog through searches, the remainder found Jukupedia through referral or unknown means.

The most-read individual post (300+ readers) focused on juku-connections in the 2011 government of PM Noda. A post that discussed university entrance examinations as the linchpin of the education system was also read nearly 300 times.

Even the least-read posts received more than 20 views.


Interviews about “Out of the Shadows”

Vertical Banner: Out of the Shadows - The Global Intensification of Supplementary EducationIn November the volume I co-edited with Janice Aurini and Scott Davies was published by Emerald.

I was recently interviewed by Ee-Seul Yoon (UBC Faculty of Education) about various aspects of the genesis of this book.

This interview led to an Asia Pacific Memo. (“The Global Intensification of Supplementary Education“, APM 271, Feb 18, 2014)

Two additional segments didn’t make it into the Asia Pacific Memo.

In the first, I spoke about what motivated us as an editorial team to put this volume together.

In the second, segment I talk about how ubiquitous supplementary education has become.

Thanks again to Ee-Seul for conducting the interview and to Paul Weston for filming and editing.

New Book on Supplementary Education Around the World

Janice Aurini, Scott Davies & Julian Dierkes (eds.)

Out of the Shadows: The Global Intensification of Supplementary Education

(International Perspectives on Education and Society, Vol. 22)

Emerald Publishing, Bingley UK: 2013.

Vertical Banner: Out of the Shadows - The Global Intensification of Supplementary EducationTable of Contents

“Out of the shadows? An introduction to worldwide supplementary education”
Janice Aurini, Scott Davies, Julian Dierkes (pp. xv – xxiv)

Part 1: Countries With High Intensity Forms of Supplementary Education

“The Insecurity Industry: Supplementary Education in Japan”
Julian Dierkes (pp. 3 – 21)

“Supplementary Education in Turkey: Recent Developments and Future Prospects”
Aysit Tansel (pp. 23 – 66)

“Researching Supplementary Education: Plans, Realities, and Lessons from Fieldwork in China”
Wei Zhang, Mark Bray (pp. 67 – 94)

“Private Tutoring in Vietnam: A Review of Current Issues and its Major Correlates”
Hai-Anh Dang (pp. 95 – 127)

“Supplementary Education in Brazil: Diversity and Paradoxes”
Alexandre Ventura, Candido Gomes (pp. 129 – 151)

Part 2: Countries With Low Intensity Forms of Supplementary Education

“Supplementary Education in a Changing Organizational Field: The Canadian Case”
Janice Aurini, Scott Davies (pp. 155 – 170)

“But did it Help you get to University? A Qualitative Study of Supplementary Education in Western Australia”
Martin Forsey (pp. 171 – 189)

“Supplementary Education in the United States: Policy Context, Characteristics, and Challenges”
Izumi Mori (pp. 191 – 207)

“Supplementary Education in Germany: History and Present Developments”
Thomas Koinzer (pp. 209 – 220)

Part 3: Comparing High and Low Intensity Forms of Supplementary Education

“Making Markets: Policy Construction of Supplementary Education in the United States and Korea”
Christopher Lubienski, Jin Lee (pp. 223 – 244)

“Family Capital: a Determinant of Supplementary Education in 17 Nations”
Darby E. Southgate (pp. 245 – 258)

Guest Post: Juku – A Necessary Evil?

A guest post by Steve Entrich, Research Assistant at the University of Potsdam, Germany:

Who thinks that Japanese students should have gotten tired of juku classes by now is proven wrong. The hope to pass the difficult entrance examinations and get access to a prestigious university like the Tōdai (Tokyo University) and by this increase the chances to get hired for a desirable steady position in one of Japan’s big companies or government agencies, is a strong motivator for students to still give it their all. Following the unwritten rule saying that school education alone will not prepare a student sufficiently enough to let him survive in the tough business world students are more than ever supposed to take extra classes outside of school.

Nowadays parents are even told by their students’ school teachers to send their children to a juku in order to manage to get into the school or university they desire. As you can imagine foreign parents resist the idea of sending their children to take supplementary lessons at juku when they have to attend formal classes all day already – at first. In an interview survey carried out by Dr. Melodie Cook from Niigata University, which I had the pleasure to meet at a conference in October last year in Osaka, it was shown how foreign parents reconsider their view about juku. Despite having prejudices at first, in the end nearly all foreign parents enrolled their children at a juku.

When I was talking to Japanese (and non-Japanese) parents, researchers as well as juku owners one thing seemed to be consensus and commonly accepted: It cannot be helped, students have to attend a juku if they want to get a job. Therefore everybody has to accept the existence of juku and their function in the Japanese educational system. There is just no other option left for parents than to send their children to these private schools and invest a large extra amount of money for the children’s education. From a Western perspective it often seems negligently how Japanese educational policy gave way for the development of this system until it has become influential in such a way that it is perceived the formal school system alone is not able to fulfill its given educational mission anymore. In 2005 The Japan Times called it a “cash in on failure of public schools”.

In addition, the ones partly responsible for this and simultaneously beneficiaries of this system are, of course, the juku themselves. Surprisingly, the heads and leaders of juku are blaming the government for missing engagement in the education sector for so many years; they also explain their concerns about the well-being of the children. Here juku heads told me that they would like a change in this system as there was too much pressure on the students. The yutori education reform was not so bad one said, but carried out in the wrong way giving way for critics of the conservative forces resulting in increased pressure of students. It is considered too much weight on the small shoulders of students, if they first have to sit in school all day and following this, they have to attend their “second” school until nine or ten in the evening.

Nevertheless, a change might be coming in time said the leader of a big chain juku trying to paint a brighter picture. He finds it reasonable to believe that education as a whole might also be suspect to change in the near future including the private education and juku sector. Parents nowadays are questioning more for what purpose their children are studying, if there is no perspective for many of them after getting into university. The fundamental achievement principle might lose ground, since long given guarantees are not existing anymore. The strict organization of the school system is crumbling slowly due to the increasing internationalization resulting in a general, greater openness of education.

Still, until this change is starting to bear fruit students in Japan cannot possibly achieve their educational and career goals without the investment in juku – or so it seems.

Mark Bray Visiting UBC

Under the auspices of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies International Visiting Research Scholar Program, Drs. Mark Bray and Ora Kwo (University of Hong Kong) are visiting UBC.

On May 13, they will be presenting some of their research under the title “Shadow Education: Comparative Perspectives on the Global Growth and Local Implications of Out-of-School Supplemental Education” (12:30-14h, Room 310, Neville Scarfe Building)


Plus ça change…

Exactly a year ago, Feb 3, 2012, I published an editorial in the Japan Times. I didn’t come up with the title, but it was called “Exam Forces Students to Cram Irrelevant Facts” [note that the Japan Times seems to have changed its archiving, but for now the article continues to be available].

Today, Feb 3, 2013, the editors of the Japan Times wrote a piece entitled, “Entrance Exam Change Needed“. Sounds like similar arguments? Yup, the thrust of the argument is virtually the same as mine, i.e. university entrance examinations in Japan test “test-taking skills at the age of 18 will be of little help later in a fast-changing society”.

While I could flatter myself that the editorial writers of the Japan Times re-discovered my year-old editorial, or that “great minds think alike”, what’s really going on here is that nothing has changed in the past year regarding the main problem with entrance examinations to Japanese universities, namely the fact that they don’t test anything particularly useful, interesting or relevant to future learning or societies real and imagined needs.

When I had published that editorial a year ago, most colleagues and other readers reacted with, “You’re totally right, but nothing is ever going to change anyway.”

I’m afraid that my reaction to today’s editorial would have to be the same at this point.

There are a number of reasons for this pessimism and no single factor prevents changes to the entrance examinations.

Obviously, Japanese politics and policy-making is not exactly in a particularly dynamic area in any policy area.

More specifically to education policy, any attempts at changing content are probably doomed as reformers have clearly been burnt by the fate of the yutori reforms ten years ago. These reforms had been motivated in part by a desire to make space in teaching for just the kind of things that one might see as more useful through project learning. To create this space, the volume of multiple-choice-testable “knowledge” was reduced. It’s this reduction that has inspired years of talk about the decline of academic abilities and led to a reversal of the reduction of content.

Reforms of this kind are thus currently not to be expected from MEXT or from national politicians.

What about the universities that actually set the exams? The multiple-choice format is obviously so well-institutionalized that no one can quite imagine an alternative or that everyone would be too scared of looking like they’re “soft on knowledge”.

An oft-repeated objection to test-formats that would focus more on analytical skills and understanding is that the setting and correcting of such exams is too costly given that university personnel is centrally involved in this process.

Where else could pressure come from? With declining student numbers due to demographic developments the funnel into tertiary education has grown wider and wider. Other than at the very top (national public universities, nationally prominent private universities) entrance to university is becoming less and less competitive. Ultimately, that might make the entrance examinations even less useful and thus exert pressures on universities to drop them entirely in favour of some other mechanism.

It could also be imagined that some of the best students and their families may recognize the futility of 受験 (entrance exam study) and opt out to pursue higher education abroad. This, however, does not appear to be happening given the many laments about the inward-looking focus of university-aged Japanese students.

All this leaves me thinking that we’ll continue to read editorials of this kind for the foreseeable future, even when most academics, analysts, and perhaps even readers might agree with the analysis.


Husaina Banu Kenayathulla: Household Budgeting for Education, including Tutors in Mayalsia

Husaina Banu Kenayathulla. 2012. An Economic Analysis of Household Educational Decisions in Malaysia. PhD Dissertation: Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Faculty of Education, Indiana University.


Through econometric and economic analyses, this dissertation addresses three key issues in the household educational decisions in Malaysia. First, by addressing selectivity bias, it provides new and more accurate information about the private rates of return to education in Malaysia. Second, using the Engel curve framework and the Hurdle model, this study examines whether there are significant gender differentials in intra-household educational expenditures in Malaysia and whether gender differences vary by ethnicity or geographical region. Third, this dissertation investigates the determinants of private tutoring expenditures in Malaysia using the Hurdle model.

The findings suggest that for both males and females, the average private returns to education are highest at the secondary (16.5 percent and 27.2 percent, respectively) and university (15.5 percent and 16.1 percent, respectively) education levels. The results also suggest that even after controlling for kind of work, there are substantial returns to education for both men and women at different levels of education. Additionally, the findings suggest that while there are no significant gender differences in intra-household educational expenditures nationally, these do exist in some regions, for the 5 to 9 and 10 to 14 age groups. However, such differences typically occur once children are enrolled in school. In terms of ethnicity, there is evidence of a pro-male gap in non-Bumiputera households’ decisions to enroll children ages 10 to 14 in school. Further, the results indicate that total household expenditures, household head’s level of education, household head’s gender, number of school-age children, home ownership, ethnicity and regional characteristics are important determinants of private tutoring expenditures in Malaysia.

Based on an understanding of household schooling decisions from econometric and economic analyses, this dissertation outlines some policy recommendations targeting children from low income families, children from middle income families with multiple school-age children, children with less-educated parents, and children from rural areas.

See also Dr. Kenayathulla’s Asia Pacific Memo: “Private Tutoring in Malaysia: Regulating for Quality” (January 2012)

Supplementary Education in Vancouver

Some years ago, I coordinated a mini-census of supplementary education institutions in Metro Vancouver. I reported on this project in an article in Education Canada in 2008. I have continued to keep an eye out for the appearance and growth of supplementary education in Vancouver since then. (See the appropriate Canada/Vancouver category in Jukupedia).

In June 2012, Janet Steffenhagen, the education reporter for the Vancouver Sun has written a nice piece on supplementary education in Vancouver.

Ms Steffenhagen reports on her visits to two supplementary education schools in Vancouver. She draws on my research on Japan in looking at the possible factors not just in the global growth of supplementary education, but also in the motivations for students/parents in Vancouver to begin to avail themselves of supplementary education.

If you’ve been reading other entries in the Jukupedia, you will not be surprised that I disagree with some of the implications of an explanation for participation in supplementary education in Canada as rooted in “cultural” preferences, as one interview in this article with a Vancouver Sylvan Learning Centre director notes. There are many institutional and structural reasons for the growth of supplementary education and any explanations that emphasize culture (by which most people seem to mean, national origin, coupled with some kind of immutable preferences for certain social interactions over others) neglect the mediation of any cultural preferences by the institutional conditions of schooling.

Yet, even a more complex understanding of cultural factors as they play into more general institutional conditions, would note that there are real differences in expectations of education across demographic categories, including ethnic communities and origin-of-immigration. As the BC government is considering revisions to the BC curriculum through the BC Ed Plan, it would be well worth considering the impact that such revisions could have on schools (public and private) via supplementary education businesses.