Category Archives: Julian Dierkes

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)

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.

Painful Irony: My Editorial Becomes Element in an Entrance Examination

Oh. I can’t bear it!

Through a very circuitous route, I have learned that a 2010 editorial I wrote for the on-line English edition of the Asahi was used in the English portion of an entrance examination. Wow, is that karmic retribution for the impure thoughts I have been thinking about supplementary education?

In the 2012 entrance examination for Aichi Education (!) University (愛知教育大学), my editorial shows up. It doesn’t have a title, nor an author or attribution listed and I will have to find out why that is, but it then includes the typical exam question strategy of fill-in-the-blank for the appropriate proposition (“Continued opposition […] the existence of the juku system has been one of the few areas of policy where the Japanese Teachers Union (Nikkyoso) finds itself in agreement […] education ministry officials.”)

Some sentences have been selected to be translated by the exam sitters.

Challenges in Regulating Juku

If policy-makers in Japan or elsewhere were to decide to regulate supplementary education, they would face a number of hurdles and challenges.

The first would be to define supplementary education in such a way that the “right” kind of businesses/organizations would actually be captured by this definition. I have struggled together with colleagues to come up with definitions of supplementary education as this sector and the state-recognized sector is shifting, but this would be even harder to do in a legislative context, I imagine.

A further hurdle would be enforcement. Would this be somehow handed over to local or national education authorities? Or, would this be treated as a quasi-business license?

One avenue that is obviously attractive to make regulation possible is to offer public funding for supplementary education activities and to make this funding contingent on criteria that would characterize supplementary education institutions. In some ways, this is the route that the U.S. No-Child-Left-Behind funding for tutoring to students who are enrolled in consistently “failing” schools has taken. In that case it appears to be local or state authorities who are in charge of “certifying” particular businesses or individuals as tutors. There don’t seem to be any unified criteria that are being applied in this case.

In the Japanese context, there do not seem to be formal criteria in the contracts that some Boards of Education (most noticeably in the 23 wards of metropolitan Tokyo) are entering into with juku to provide services within schools (konai juku). Such contracts could obviously include criteria like teacher certification (highly unlikely in the current Japanese context). Most likely they do include specification of student-teacher ratios, facilities to be used, etc.

The final option and one that supplementary education businesses in the more established sectors of this kind will likely push, is self-regulation, the seemingly instinctive response of all North American business groups to any hint at regulation, though somewhat less common elsewhere in the world.

Apparently, there were some discussions about versions of self-regulation between representatives of the largest education conglomerates and the Ministry of Education some years ago. These seem to have focused on some kind of teacher certification. I was told about such discussions by juku operators, but have been unable to follow up on whether these were formally reported or acknowledged.

Clearly, when dealing with a juku industry as sizeable as the Japanese one, the emergence of an industrial lobby will be one of the main obstacles to any attempts by governments (national or local) to regulate or even to structure supplementary education activities.

In the case of teacher certification, this would seem to put education conglomerates at a distinct advantage as they are already offering more formal forms of employment compared to the SME owner-operated sector. SME juku rely primarily on casual labour, often provided by former students. Requiring such casual labour to be certified in any way would likely incur prohibitive costs.

As I have argued in the context of questions regarding the efficacy of juku instruction, a requirement of teacher certification of some kind would likely lead to tutoring for such certification in its own right. Meta-tutoring anyone?

For further reading on teachers in private sector education, see:

June 2010 Asahi Editorial: Education Reform from Below

Last year (2010/06/16) I wrote an editorial for the on-line English edition of the Asahi:

POINT OF VIEW: While Policymakers are looking elsewhere, Japanese education is being reformed from below

Japanese elementary and high school education seems to have been lurching from one crisis to the next over the past 10 years.

From fears during the dot-com era that Japanese children were not being prepared for a post-industrial economy, to the apparent disaster caused by the implementation of “yutori” education, to the steady stream of social ills discovered in the nation’s schools–“ijime” (bullying); “gakyu hokai” (dysfunctional classrooms); “gakuryoku teika” (declining academic ability); and “futoko” (refusal to attend school)–politicians and the media continue to identify aspects of the decline of Japanese education.

By contrast, foreign observers might point to near-universal high school graduation, literacy and numeracy, as well as high rates of participation in higher education, as characteristics of the education system that call claims about a long-term decline into question.

Regardless of the empirical reality of a decline, the solutions to this decline are constantly sought outside of Japan.

Over the past five years, a number of models have been discussed at near-obsessive levels. From Indian arithmetic to the Finnish and Dutch education systems, pundits, academics and politicians seem to be travelling the world to find solutions to perceived Japanese problems at the national level.

Yet, few conclusions from these travels seem to get serious consideration by the apparently paralyzed Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Few politicians have the substantive expertise on education or the interest that would be necessary to evaluate claims of decline or alternative models to the extent that they could be implemented.

While a general sense of malaise permeates national discussions of education, local boards of education and schools are beginning to experiment with some very significant changes to public education, especially in Tokyo. Given the rarity with which political reforms in Japan bubble up from grass-roots experimentation, such efforts ought to be recognized, publicized, and considered for scalability to the national education system.

One of the areas of greatest experimentation has been emerging public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the schools of Tokyo’s wards. Originally pursued in the United Kingdom in the early 1990s, PPPs strive to harness private investments in public (infrastructure) projects and constitute an element in the so-called third sector. Toll roads are the paradigmatic examples of infrastructure PPPs. In Japanese education, PPPs are emerging where ward boards of education are signing contracts with supplementary education businesses (juku) to provide additional instruction to public school students on school premises in the afternoons and on weekends.

These “konai juku” are a daring experiment in that they are breaking with a decades-old attitude of confrontation between formal education and the shadow education world of juku and “yobiko.” The opposition to the existence of the juku system has been one of the few areas of policymaking where the formerly powerful Japanese Teachers Union (Nikkyoso) found itself in agreement with education ministry bureaucrats.

However, as the perception of significant shortcomings in public education has spread, local officials have increasingly looked to the supplementary education industry as a possible source for solutions.

Education PPPs now operate in all wards of metropolitan Tokyo. They have been created in the context of school choice that has been pushed down to the elementary school-level and encourage principals to seek distinguishing features for their schools that might stem the tide to private education in the capital. Coincidentally, the introduction of school choice has also been spearheaded by local efforts, most notably in Shinagawa Ward.

These PPPs take many different forms, some specifically targeting students who are underperforming, some aiming at the average students who have been somewhat neglected in public discourse, while others are providing the accelerated education and exam preparation for which some of the larger juku schools are famous.

Activities span from test-taking services, to classroom or individualized instruction, to teacher education seminars. While teachers and union officials are opposing these experiments in some schools, others are welcoming juku into the school for what they offer at the moment, a constructive experiment. One of the ironies of the entry of juku into publicly-run schools is that this signifies the re-introduction of Saturday school by stealth.

Juku are clearly not the panacea to end all educational ills that some proponents make them out to be. The scarcity of any research on juku means that claims of their efficacy and superior ability to tailor educational content to individuals and their learning needs, remain just that, claims. Whether or not one accepts the pessimistic view of contemporary Japanese education, however, experimentation with alternatives is an element that has long been missing in the highly-centralized education system, and these grass-roots efforts should be encouraged, nurtured and taken seriously.

While experimentation is to be welcomed, it should also be supervised and held accountable. Obviously, long-term contracts between private education providers and schools or boards of education have significant fiscal implications. They also bear the potential for creeping privatization of public education.

Boards of education should monitor these experiments very carefully and should themselves be held accountable for their experimentation.

I’ve written about the shift of power to grass-roots level in Japan on this blog as well.

CEU Summer Course on Privatization in Education

Today I received an announcement of a summer course to be held at the Central European University in Budapest this July.

When I saw “summer course on privatization in education”, I immediately thought that this sounded like a how-to business seminar, or an ideologically-driven exercise in expounding the supposed healing powers of the neo-classical market. Fortunately, I turns out not to be that at all, but rather a serious effort at investigating privatization in education as a global development.

Part of how I know that and what reassured me is the involvement of Geoffrey Walford (Oxford) as one of the faculty members in this activity. Walford co-organized a conference on school choice (with Martin Forsey (Univ of Western Australia) and Scott Davies (McMaster) in Perth some years ago that I participated in. This conference resulted in an edited volume, The Globalisation of School Choice (Symposium Books 2008) that included my chapter, “Japanese Shadow Education: The Consequences of School Choice“.

Here’s some more information on the CEU summer course:

Under the auspices of the Privatisation in Education Research Initiative (PERI), the Education Support Programme of the Open Society Foundations and the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, are offering a one-week summer university course on privatisation in education from the 25th–29th July 2011.

Bringing together an internationally renowned faculty, the course aims to:
1.       Locate new governance initiatives in education sectors in relation to wider transformations in the global political and cultural economy; education as a services sector; education as a tradeable commodity; education as a form of human capital and investment; education as a human right; education as a form of cultural capital; education as a means for emancipation; education as a cultural and class project.
2.       Demonstrate understanding of the complex nature of education governance that involves different actors, differing activity, and different scales on which to act.
3.       Outline the nature of the conceptual complexities and empirical phenomena associated with Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) as emerging, hybrid, forms of governance and their role in, and consequences for, the governance of the education sector, and new forms of privatisation of education.
4.       Develop a critical account of a range of education governance initiatives; from low-fee-schooling; Charter Schools; Shadow Schooling; PPPs, global transnational firms, such as GEMS, Cisco Systems; education consultants, such as CfBT, and so forth.
5.       Apply a theory of social justice to the framing and outcomes of new governance initiatives in education.

Places are limited to 25, are fully funded will be offered on a competitive basis. The scholarships include visa, travel, accommodation, tuition fees and a subsistence allowance.

Global applications are invited from PhD candidates, early career educational researchers and policy analysts with a PhD, policy makers and government officials, and faculty in education, particularly those engaged in comparative scholarship and scholarship on education policy, social inequalities, and institutional change. Practitioners with a strong policy engagement are also encouraged to apply, especially those based in or working with southern countries.

Further details

Questions Arising from Course Discussions

I always enjoy presenting aspects of my research on juku to new groups of people as there never fail to be different questions on various aspects that I report on.

The UBC Continuing Studies course that I’m teaching is no different in this regard especially since most of the course participants have a (Canadian schools) teaching background and seem to be quite interested in aspects of the developments that I’m recounting.

One of the questions that came up today was about the impact of time spent in structured activities, including juku, on Japanese children and especially on their overall development.

As with so many questions on juku outcome measurements (including, very significantly, the efficacy of juku instruction), my first response was to point to the very real methodological challenge in comparing populations of students when these are young and ethical concerns prevent the use of non-voluntary control groups.

[HUGE CAVEAT: I’m neither a neurologist, nor childhood development expert, so what follows are informed musings rather than research conclusions.]

My eyes have been opened to many different aspects of and aspirations for education through my research on juku. While inclined toward cultural relativism to begin with (some simplistic form thereof, not entirely thought-out or developed) and intent on a Weberian stance of neutrality in observation and analysis, I have abandoned most of my notions associated with ‘cram school’ in the course of my research. Most of this shift in my thinking has come about through interactions with many of the individuals involved in juku who not only talk about having the best interests of their students in mind, but act accordingly as well.

That is not to romanticize the juku world and to claim that parts of it are not focused exclusively on a relatively rote memorization that does not seem to make the world, nor the students involved a better place/person.

So when a question about human development is raised and focuses on an area like unstructured play, I often think to myself that that is a very contemporary, North American/Oceanian/European notion. That doesn’t mean that I don’t share the intuition that unstructured play seems to offer elements of social development that many organized play activities don’t, I’m just not certain that these elements are typical or necessary for human development. The question in the discussion today, by the way, did not imply that necessary link.

Some years ago, there was a brief flurry about some research findings suggesting that urban children we no longer able to walk backwards. In a quick Google Scholar search I was not able to find the research that this claim was based on, sadly. Perhaps this was an urban myth that I’m perpetuating here.

My reaction to this discussion was that I thought it was awful that children can’t walk backwards. But then I have to catch myself and remind myself that walking backwards does not seem to be a necessary element in being a better person (if that is an aim for education), nor is it an essential skill for contemporary life (taking a more human resource-focused approach to education), though it may have been for mammoth hunting.

Another example of a skill that is seen as essential in a specific time and place is swimming. When you live in urban Canada with the plethora of swimming pools offered in community centres and perhaps only rivaled by the erstwhile penetration of swimming pools in small-town West Germany, it it astonishing to hear of a child that doesn’t know how to swim. Yet, swimming in and of itself is neither a universal stage in human development, nor is it a necessary skill everywhere in the world.

And so it is with the impact of unstructured play (or the absence thereof as it may be caused by the growth of supplementary education, among many other factors). Yes, instinctively I would say that such an impact is likely. However, I am also open to the possibility that the valourization of unstructured play may be specific to a time and place. Just as I am very happy to reconcile myself to university students who don’t seem to read entire books, but have great information searching skills, so am I willing to accept the lack of unstructured play as a reality across most developed countries.

That acceptance does not mean, of course, that it wouldn’t be a very interesting and also very important question to ask about the impact of time spent in juku and thus mostly in sedentary positions indoors, on childhood development.

UBC Continuing Studies: Ageless Pursuits

This week I get to teach a class in UBC Continuing Studies’ Ageless Pursuits series.

The Global Spread of For-Profit Tutoring and Cram Schools” will discuss Japan as an example of the long-term historical shift from all-private education until the advent of modernity. In Japan’s case, an all-encompassing public education system was then constructed after the Meiji Restoration (1868). Importantly, this public system also included various forms of private education, private schools and universities most explicitly, but it was governed by policies designed and enacted by the state.

I argue that the first “juku-boom” of the 1970s was the beginning of a pendulum swing back toward private education and that Japan is but one example of this dynamic around the world.

I’m looking forward to the opportunity to develop this argument over five sessions and to discussing it with the participants.

And yes, I used the “c-word” in the title of the lectures. Sometimes it’s more important to give people a sense of what I’m talking about, even when there’s a lot that’s wrong with that sense.

My Sense of the Future of Canadian Education vis-a-vis Supplementary Education in 2008

In 2008, I wrote an article for Education Canada, published by the Canadian Education Association, that a) reported on the current state of (research on) supplementary education in Japan, and b) speculated a bit about what an understanding of juku implies for the trajectory of Canadian education. In this discussion of the Canadian context, I relied on a quick-and-dirty survey of supplementary education institutions in the Lower Mainland that I did together with intern Sabrina Lohner in the summer of 2007.

In this survey, we found 74 tutoring centres and other supplementary education institutions in the Vancouver area.

Roughly half of these supplementary education businesses promoted themselves in more languages than just English and many of them seemed to be branding themselves specifically in a way to appeal to Asian-Canadians.

The full article is freely available on the Education Canada website or as a PDF.

Asia Pacific Memo on Hyper-Education as the Way of the Future

In an Asia Pacific Memo last year, I asked: “Is South Korea’s Hyper-Education System the Future?” (APM #2, July 13, 2010)

A recent workshop at the University of Waterloo concluded that hyper-education will spread globally in the future. Currently, South Korea’s education system seems to be the most extreme. It is increasingly structured around tutoring in “hagwon” (supplemental education institutions). Korea has taken on even more extreme forms of examination “hell” than Japan.

In Korea, there are reports of students sleeping less than 4 hours per night to prepare for entrance exams to special high schools. An education system embodied in high-stakes standardized exams resulted in this pressure-cooker environment. In a rigidly hierarchal higher education sector, knowledge is emphasized over understanding. The government’s ongoing efforts to combat supplementary education and its excesses are not effective.

The Japanese supplementary education system originated in the early 1970s during the “juku-boom” (when many small supplementary education institutions, or ‘jukus’, were founded). In Japan, a hierarchal education system caused examination “hell” in the context of expanding household income and declining birth rates.

Japan now appears to be following in Korea’s footsteps. In Korea, ‘mom n’ pop’ “hagwon” have been replaced by corporate behemoths of 50,000 students or more. Similarly in Japan, this development began in the 1990s and continues as operators of small, independent “juku” retire without successors. In Japan’s future, declining birth rates may lead to a decline in competition for higher education. However, in the immediate coming years, there will be further economic concentration of businesses active in the supplementary education industry.

On the other hand, China presents the “perfect storm” of conditions for an education system even more extreme than Korea. Single children are far removed from their extended families and are raised by ambitious and increasingly affluent parents. It is becoming a capitalist pressure-cooker as competition for entry into an expanding higher education system increases.