Monthly Archives: April 2011

CIES Mongolia Presentations

These are the CIES presentations on Mongolia that I’ve been able to find in the program:

Tuesday, May 3

• Session 240. 10:15-11:45h Providing opportunities through educational reforms in Mongolia: From primary education to higher education

“Impact analysis of innovative reading program in rural schools”  Khishigbuyan Dayan-Ochir, Rural
Education and Development Project (READ), Mongolia

“ICT use in primary schools: Comparative analysis of 5 rural provinces”  Junko Onodera, Tokyo
Institute of Technology, Japan; Shinobu Yamaguchi, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan

“Web-based teacher training: Analysis from prototype development”  Dalai Morigen, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan; Shinobu Yamaguchi, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan

“Reaching increased access, better quality, and relevance of higher education: Lessons learned
from twenty years of transitional experience” Bat-Erdene Regsuren, Ministry of Education,
Mongolia; Sukhbaatar Javzan, Institute of Finance and Economics, Mongolia

Wednesday, May 4

• Session 404. 13:45-15:15h Policy and Curriculum

“Transformation of teacher knowledge into classroom teaching: A case of Mongolia” Oyunaa Purevdorj, Independent Consultant, Mongolia

CIES Presentation Park: Comparing the Impact of Private Tutoring in South Korea and the United States

I’m grateful to EJ Park for sharing her abstract.

Sunday, May 1: Session 57, 13:45-15:15h, Queen Elizabeth Hotel Floor C – Saint Laurent


The growing demand for private tutoring around the world is often regarded as a policy problem reflecting a weakness in public school programs.  Private tutoring poses potentially adverse impacts on the educational environment, because it is sometimes viewed as worsening social inequalities. In South Korea, for example, data show that expenditures on private tutoring by the wealthiest 10 percent were twelve times the amount spent by the poorest 10 percent of households. In contrast, private tutoring in the United States is used primarily for remedial purposes, and thus it occurs primarily for lower income students. The goal of this research is to test whether the use of private tutoring differs between the Korea and the United States, and whether private tutoring is associated with student achievement outcomes.  Our conceptual framework is an input-output model, where student achievement scores comprise the outputs and school resources/programs and student family background make up the inputs.  The data used for this research is the 2006 PISA Survey (Programme for International Student Assessment).  Our analytic approach will have two parts: (1) tabular comparisons and analysis of variance to compare tutoring patterns between South Korea and the U.S., and (2) OLS regression and hierarchical linear modeling to test the effect of private tutoring on students’ achievement outcomes, controlling for socioeconomic and school factors.   Although results are preliminary, there is a significant relationship between private tutoring and achievement in both countries, but the association is positive in South Korea and negative in the United States.

CIES Presentaton Mori: Determinants of Supplementary Tutoring in Japan, Korea, and the Unites States

Sunday, May 1. Session 57. 13:45-15:15h, Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Floor C – Saint Laurent

Thanks to Izumi Mori for sending me her abstract.


The purpose of this paper is to examine individual and school characteristics that are associated with students’ participation in out-of-school-time lessons in mathematics in three countries. Previous studies on supplementary tutoring have revealed confounding factors that determine students’ use of out-of-school tutoring as follows: 1) students’ academic performance, 2) deficiencies in formal schooling in terms of instruction and resources, 3) family’s socio-economic backgrounds, and 4) parental involvement. Using the 2006 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) data for 15-year-olds, I conducted multilevel logistic regression for each country and found the following results. In Japan, SES except for family wealth has positive influence on student participation in tutoring. School resources and ability grouping have positive effect at the school level. In Korea, all SES measures but parents’ occupation have positive association with tutoring. Private school students are more likely to be tutored after controlling for other characteristics. In the United States, SES including parental education and occupation are not significant predictors after controlling for students’ test score. Public school students tend to participate more in tutoring, and higher student-teacher ratio and teacher shortage are associated with more participation in tutoring. The effect of test score varies in three countries: neutral in Japan, positive in Korea, and negative in the U.S. In all three countries, home educational resources (e.g, desk, place to study, books to help schoolwork, dictionary) are strong predictors of supplementary tutoring even after controlling for SES and school characteristics. These similarities and differences suggest the importance of examining supplementary tutoring at the cross-national level.

CIES Presentation Brehm-Silova: The hidden privatization of public education in Cambodia

William Brehm and Iveta Silova have kindly sent me the abstract for their presentation.

Monday, May 2: Session 99. 8:30-10h, Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Floor C – Saguenay


The contemporary practice of private tutoring in Cambodia is a complex phenomenon. Since government school lasts only four hours/day and primary teachers earn about $44/month, it is impossible for students to receive the full national curriculum (longer than the actual school day) and for teachers to earn a livable wage without conducting private tutoring. What results is a system where teachers charge students to learn the remaining curriculum after school hours, often times inside government school buildings. In addition, students can hire a teacher for individual tutoring (called “extra special tutoring”), which takes place in the student’s house, or students can attend private tutoring lessons offered in another government school.

Although Cambodian private tutoring has recently been linked explicitly to educational inequity (Bray, 2005) and teacher corruption (Dawson, 2009), the system is far more complex and historically rooted than observers are likely to recognize at first glance. Notwithstanding the cost barriers or lack of governance, private tutoring functions in a Foucauldian sense to order society along traditional hierarchical lines as a mechanism to cope with the five decades of rapid and often conflicting geopolitical transitions (see Silova, 2009 for examples of private tutoring as a mechanism of coping for rapid transition in Central Asia). In this presentation, we will argue that the modernity project in Cambodia (with all of its rhetoric of education access and equity) has been no more than a carefully appropriated façade, concealing the real system of education that rests on notions of hierarchy, inequality, and absolutism—ideas traditionally associated with Cambodia since the rule of God-King Jayavarman II (Mannikka, 1996)—ordering society into the people who have (neak mean) and people who do not (neak kro). The aim of this presentation is therefore to situate the emergence of the system of private tutoring within the Cambodian context and then to explore how it, together with the modern institution of education, (re)orders society along traditional lines of power and hierarchy.

My CIES Presentation: Private-Sector Innovations in Primary and Secondary Education in Japan

Wednesday, May 4: Session 416. 13:45-15:15h, Queen Elizabeth Hotel Floor C – Saint Charles


The Japanese government has long publicly disavowed the existence of a large-scale supplementary education industry (juku and yobiko). Recently, waves of moral panics regarding education  (bullying, breakdown of classroom discipline, decline of academic abilities, school refusal, etc.) have led to a profound sense of insecurity among parents. This overall decline in trust in public education is leading to local policy innovations like the creation of extra lessons on Saturdays paid for by Boards of Education, but offered by private businesses. Tellingly, such nascent local reforms are reforms of form, not of substance in that they do not signal nor do they follow curricular innovation. Likewise, the most dynamic areas of innovation in private-sector education focus on delivery methods. There is a general trend toward individualized instruction and tutoring. Larger supplementary education businesses especially are investing enormous sums into various delivery technologies. Yet, other areas of possible investment, such as teachers training, remain largely neglected by the public and private sector.

Juku-Related Presentations at CIES Montreal

Starting this weekend, the Comparative and International Education Society is meeting in Montreal. Huge conference, lots of interesting presentations all happening simultaneously.

Here’s my selection of presentations/panels that will talk about supplementary education and juku:

Sunday, May 1

• Session 56. 13:45-15:15h The swing of pendulum from equity to excellence in South Korean education

“The role of after school program in reducing the expenditure in shadow education” Haram Jeon, Pennsylvania State University, USA

• Session 57. 13:45-15:15h Tutoring and student achievement

Comparing the impact of private tutoring in South Korea and the United StatesEun Jung Park, George Mason University, USA; David J. Armor, George Mason University, USA

Determinants of supplementary tutoring in Japan, Korea, and the United StatesIzumi Mori, Pennsylvania State University, USA

“Reward or award? Who gets the awards among Korean high school students?” BaekSan Yoo, Korea University

Monday, May 2

• Session 99. 8:30-10h Markets, shadows, and schools: The impact and implications of private tutoring in Asia
Chair: Mark Bray, University of Hong Kong

The hidden privatization of public education in Cambodia: Quality and equity implications of private tutoring” William C Brehm, TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center – Boston College, USA; Iveta Silova, Lehigh University, USA

“The evolving shadow: Supplementary private tutoring in Hong Kong” Mark Bray, University of Hong Kong

“Tuition syndrome: Determinants of private tutoring in Malaysia” Husaina Kenayathulla, Indiana University, USA

Discussants: Julian Dierkes, University of British Columbia, Canada

Tuesday, May 3

• Session 324. 13:45-15:15h

“How does school quality inputs impact families’ decisions about after-school tutoring in Sri Lanka?” Rachel Cole, New York University, USA

Wednesday, May 4

• Session 416. 13:45-15:15h

Private-sector innovation in primary and secondary education in Japan” Julian Dierkes, University of British Columbia, Canada

• Session 424. 13:45-15:15h

“Balancing CJK and English literacy objectives: A multi-method study of East Asian supplementary schools in the US” Jadong Kim, International Christian University, Japan; Mark William Langager, International Christian University, Japan; Hui Joki Xu, International Christian University, Japan

Whence my juku/supplementary education expertise?

So, what makes me the expert on juku/supplementary education?

It’s now been over five years that I’ve been doing research on juku in Japan.

In the course of this period, I’ve visited over 45 juku. Most of these are located in Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures, but I’ve also visited about eight juku in the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe), four in Hiroshima city, and another four in rural Shimane Prefecture.

According to my contacts in the juku industry, that makes me the current world record holder in number of juku visited. When I began this research, I was not intending to set a record in this particular discipline.

When I mention that I’ve “visited” over 45 juku, what I mean by that is that I’ve been to the physical location of these juku and have interviewed the owner/operator/principal (塾長 – jukucho). In more than 40 of these juku I’ve also observed classes.

I have visited around ten of these juku more than once, having observed classes in one particular juku on five separate occasions by now.

The shortest visits to juku have lasted around two hours, while the longest begin mid-afternoon and end in a shared meal (or more often than not, beer) with the jukucho just in time to allow me to catch the last train/subway.

The vast majority of the juku that I’ve visited are owner-operated (by the jukucho) and could be categorized as small and medium enterprise (SME) juku with fewer than 10 employees and fewer than 200 students.

I have no strict scheme for selecting classes that I observe, though I enjoy math (算数・数学) and Japanese (国語) the most. As they are not generally entrance exam subjects, social studies (社会) and science (理科) are not taught as widely and I have thus observed fewer classes in these subjects. I generally try to avoid English classes.

Depending on the focus of the juku (in term depending in part on the location), I observe different ages of students. I have observed classes for preschoolers (4-year olds) and primary and secondary students of all ages.

I continue to select juku using a somewhat modified snowball sample.

There you go, that is the kind of data that I have collected that makes me an expert.

Why not ‘cram school’?

If I only have 10 seconds to tell you what my research focuses on, I’d have to say “‘cram schools’ in Japan”. That is the most efficient way to describe my current interests. However, it is also very misleading.

The description is efficient, because most of you will have some sense of what a ‘cram school’ is.

It’s misleading, because your sense of a ‘cram school’ may not be what I have in mind at all, nor does it necessarily correspond to the juku that I have visited and continue to visit.

Also, I feel compelled to always place ‘cram school’ in quotation marks and that is tiring.

Here are some of the associations most people have with ‘cram school’:

  • not enjoyable, perhaps even scary
  • an, er, old-school pedagogy focused on a teacher lecturing to students
  • the repression of children’s natural spiritedness
  • darkness
  • neon lights
  • children are left with no time to play
  • children to be pitied

These are, in fact, also the associations most people have with shadow education generally and with juku specifically.

There certainly are some juku where a brief glance or visit might conjure up impressions that would confirm these associations. But just like schools, juku vary massively and for many of the smaller juku that I visit, the common associations with ‘cram schools’ are unfair stereotypes rather than even remotely accurate descriptors.

  • many children genuinely enjoy their time at juku
  • some juku practice a pedagogy that is not only engaging, but also interactive
  • there’s a lot of carousing at juku
  • many juku are decorated brightly
  • some even eschew neon lighting
  • juku is not the only extracurricular activity for many students
  • there is nothing pitiful about juku students per se


However, I get distracted…

Other topics that are likely to come up (these are topics that have featured prominently in my Tweets, for example):

  • supplementary education, not just in Japan, but worldwide
  • countries where I am following the development of supplementary education with a particular interest (Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, the U.S.)
  • anything about or from Mongolia
  • the Olympics

Welcome to Jukupedia: Shadowing Education

I am finally taking the plunge!

After writing many blog posts in my mind, it is time to get to work.
First of all, what will I be writing about?
For some years now, I have been conducting research on 学習塾 (gakushujuku) in Japan. These are for-profit, afternoon and weekend supplementary education institutions focused on primary and secondary school students, in common parlance, ‘cram schools’ (more on why I don’t use that term later).

Most of my posts will thus focus on the juku and the shadow education system that they form a part of.