Supplementary Education Stepping Out of the Shadow

Wonderful session at CIES this morning:

Markets, shadows, and schools: The impact and implications of private tutoring in Asia
Chair and Organizer: Mark Bray, Comparative Education Research Centre, University of Hong Kong

The hidden privatization of public education in Cambodia: Quality and equity implications of private tutoring” William C Brehm, This Life CambodiaIveta Silova, Lehigh University, USA

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

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

First, some quick summaries/observations of the presentations/panel. Then, some broader comments inspired by the panel discussions.

Brehm/Silova on Cambodia:

They argue that private tutoring is a conduit by which traditional social relations (primarily hierarchical) are reproduced in education even though the public education system is committed to the provision of free education to Cambodian students.

Data come from fieldwork in Cambodia that include interviews with teachers and students and focus on the costs and organizational structure associated with private tutoring. Through this fieldwork Brehm/Silova are able to offer summary data on the cost of tutoring in different categories, i.e. by level of education and rural/urban location. These costs range from 200 Riel/hr (approx. C¢5) to 16,000 Riel/hr (C$3.75).

The presentation highlighted the fact that students are classified into different achievement groups in public schools and that this classification may well have come to be based on students’/parents’ willingness/ability to pay their school teachers for tutoring.

This intertwining of classroom practices, teachers’ salaries and private tutoring is increasingly turning public schools into a mere ‘façade’ on an entry point to private tutoring.

Bray on Hong Kong:

Bray relied on visuals to provide a striking impression of the current context of private tutoring in Hong Kong. From videos focused on celebrity tutors and their students, to photographs of the splashy advertising that the tutoring industry decorates Hong Kong with, this industry clearly has become a very visible part of schooling in Hong Kong.

As an anecdotal aside Bray mentioned that classroom size is limited to <45 students (by regulation), but that celebrity tutors circumvent this by having glass divisions between classrooms staffed with “dummy tutors”.

Kenayathulla on Malaysia:

Kenayathulla presented her models of the likelhood of spending on private tutoring and the amount spent.

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