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Confronting the Shadow Education System: What Government Policies for What Private Tutoring

Date & Time:

February 22, 2013 (Fri) | 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.


Room P6-03, Graduate House


Professor Mark Bray
Professor, Faculty of Education

Professor Mark Bray received the Faculty Knowledge Exchange (KE) Award 2012 of the Faculty of Education for the project entitled ''Confronting the Shadow Education System: What Government Policies for What Private Tutoring?''.



In Hong Kong, 72% of Secondary Form 6 students receive fee-paying supplementary tutoring in academic subjects outside school hours. Much of this is provided through the ''tutor kings and queens'', though other provision is through smaller companies and informal arrangements. Proportions of students receiving tutoring are also high at other levels of secondary schooling, in primary schools, and even in pre-schools. Such tutoring is widely called shadow education because it mimics the regular system. As the curriculum changes in the schools, so it changes in the shadow.

Shadow education has long been visible in Hong Kong, and has now become a global phenomenon. Such tutoring may help slow learners to keep up with their peers, and may stretch the learning of high achievers. However, tutoring imposes financial burdens on households; and since richer families can purchase greater quantities and better qualities of tutoring, shadow education exacerbates social inequalities. Shadow education can also burden students, and may have a backwash on mainstream schooling.

The question then is what governments should do about shadow education. The answer is not simple, but much can be learned from comparisons.This seminar will examine patterns around Asia and beyond. It will highlight ways in which HKU researchers are working with policy makers both directly and through UNESCO and other international organizations.

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