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CERC Management Committee meeting and Annual General meeting

On June 28, 2022 the CERC Management Committee met to discuss the 2021-2022 annual report and prospects of international projects and collaborations in the next academic year.

(In the picture above, [second-row, left to right], Mark Bray, UNESCO Chair and a former CERC Director, Yang Lili, HKU faculty and invitee to the meeting, and Yang Rui, Professor and Dean, Faculty of Education; [top-row, left to right] Anatoly Oleksiyenko, the previous CERC Director and HESIG Chair, Nutsa Kobakhidze, CERC Director and convener of Shadow Education SIG, and Liu Jie, Secretary; and front, Peter Cobb, MC member.)

On June 30, 2022, CERC held its Annual General Meeting. The meeting started at 19.00 (HKT) with the annual report from the Management Committee. Dr Nutsa Kobakhidze and Dr Anatoly Oleksiyenko co-chaired the meeting. Dr Oleksiyenko presented the annual report and invited members to share information about CERC’s activities. Dr Nutsa Kobakhidze spoke about the Shadow Education SIG activities and Dr Anatoly Oleksiyenko spoke about the Higher Education SIG activities in 2021/22 respectively. In addition, Dr Yang Lili and Dr Peter Cobb proposed ideas for new SIGs. As the new Director, Dr Nutsa Kobakhidze introduced CERC activities in 2022/23.

The meeting was followed by a guest speaker presentation “Memory in the Mekong: Regional Identity, Schools, and Politics in Southeast Asia” delivered by Will Brehm, Associate Professor of University College London and CERC alumnus as well as insightful discussions.

CERC’s Annual General Meeting and Guest Speaker Presentation by Will Brehm

On June 30, 2022 (19:00 HKT), CERC will hold the Annual General Meeting and we invite you to attend it by registering at the following link:

The meeting will start with highlights from our 2021-2022 Annual Report presented by Anatoly Oleksiyenko (Honorary Director), Nutsa Kobakhidze (Honorary Director Elect) and Mark Bray (UNESCO Chair). The Annual Report copy can be read on our web-site.

Our traditional Guest Speaker presentation (19:20-20:15) will feature a book presentation by our colleague and alumnus Will Brehm, Associate Professor of Education and International Development at the Institute of Education, University College London, and a member of the Centre for Education and International Development.

Will Brehm will share insights from his most recent book “Memory in the Mekong: Regional Identity, Schools, and Politics in Southeast Asia”. The book pulls together over three years of research conducted in Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam. The study was set to answer the following question: How exactly does education underpin a regional identity across Southeast Asia? Is it even possible or desirable to establish a common identity across the diverse peoples of Southeast Asia? And how might a regional identity exist alongside national identities, which are also deeply contested within countries? Will Brehm’s presentation is focused mostly on the history of UNESCO’s shared histories project, some of its paradoxes, and the politics of its implementation in Cambodia.

We look forward to seeing you at the CERC’s Annual General Meeting on June 30.


Anatoly Oleksiyenko

Nutsa Kobakhidze

Shadow Education SIG Meeting

The CERC will host the next SIG meeting on November 19, Friday, 3:30 pm HKT. This time we will listen to Ms. Gwen Zeng from the Education University of Hong Kong. Gwen is a PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Kevin Yung.


Gwen is in the process of collecting data for her doctoral study, and would like to present her ongoing work and get feedback from the SIG members. The title of her PhD study is:  “Tutoring or not tutoring: Understanding parents’ agency in children’s early English learning in China”. You can find a short abstract below.


Zoom information:

Meeting ID: 929 5002 1763

Password: 707318



With the spread of ‘English fever’ and the controversial belief ‘earlier is better’, there is a tendency of lowering children’s start age of English learning as a foreign language in East Asian countries. However, in Mainland China, early English education for preschoolers is not encouraged by the government and English education is forbidden in all public kindergartens since 2018. An increasingly number of Chinese parents still enrolled their children in various modes of early English Private Tutoring (EEPT) during the past decade. In July 2021, the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Mainland China issued a tougher-than-expected policy named “Double Reduction” to ease the burden of excessive homework and off-campus tutoring for young students. According to the policy, English is defined as an academic subject which should not be taught to preschoolers. Both online and offline EEPT for kindergarten children are violating the policy. Some EEPT institutions closed their business or experienced a struggling transition soon after the promulgation of the policy.

Chinese parents are exercising their agency to support (or not support) their children’s English learning at this critical moment in the complicated context. They constantly make choices and carry out practices toward children’s early English learning (EEL), especially through engaging children in EEPT. Parents are the most important social actors and stakeholders in children’s EEL, but there is a dearth of research on parents’ agency in the particular context of Mainland China. This study will fill this gap by providing the knowledge of parents’ agency in their children’s EEL, expanding research on parents’ language ideologies, management and practice, and helping parents, language educators, educational administrators and policy makers understand early English education and policy issues in the context of China.

Informed by the ecological model of agency, this study employs narrative inquiry to examine Chinese parents’ agency in children’s EEL through three dimensions: the iterational (parents’ past experiences), the projective (parents’ future aspirations on their children) and the practical-evaluative (parents’ present cultural, material resources and social structures) dimensions. It also investigates how parents’ agency dynamically develops within the situated context.

The study starts in April 2021 and is still being conducted in Nanchang, a second-tier city in Mainland China. Thirteen families with children aged 3-6 years old have consented to participate in this one-year longitudinal study. The parents from these families have different socioeconomic backgrounds with various education levels, occupations and income. They will participate in three rounds of interviews throughout a year (the second round has just been completed). They also provide video clips of their children’s English learning activities (ELA), record their arrangements of these ELA in log sheets and keep on-going conversations with the researcher on their choices and practices toward children’s EEL. Through snowball sampling, the tutors and kindergarten teachers of their children are invited to attend interviews for a more comprehensive understanding of parents’ agency in the situated context.

As the data collection of this study is going on, I would like to introduce the background, theoretical framework, research questions, research methods and my current data collection during the presentation. I would be grateful to have SIG members’ feedback and suggestions on my study.


International Conference “The University purpose and Institutional Autonomy: Challenges and their impact on Georgia”

On October 29 and 30, 2021, Dr. Anatoly Oleksiyenko, CERC’s Honorary Director and Dr. Nutsa Kobakhidze, CERC’s Management Committee member, presented respectively at the virtual conference organized by East European University & Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University。

The conference explored the challenges of institutional autonomy and academic freedom in Georgian higher education which directly bear on social, cultural, economic and political developments of the country. The conference addressed the following questions:

  • What should be the purpose of higher education in Georgia?
  • What are strengths and weaknesses of higher education in contemporary Georgia?
  • What are the solutions to the existing problems?
  • How higher education can promote the social, cultural, economic and political development of the country?
  • What is the economic environment within which the higher education system in Georgia functions and what are main challenges in this regard?
  • How autonomous are higher education institutions in Georgia?
  • What is the degree of academic freedom in higher education institutions in Georgia?

How Can We Ensure Effective Blended Learning

Dr. Anatoly Oleksiyenko, CERC’s Honorary Director, was invited by the Global Citizenship Foundation to join the scholarly panel discussing the challenges of ensuring effective blended learning during the pandemics and beyond. The presentation took place on the 16th Online Educational Leadership Forum (Online) on September 14, 2021.

The recorded webcast is available at

CERC Management Committee meeting

On June 9, 2021 the CERC Management Committee met to discuss the 2020-2021 annual report and prospects of international projects and collaborations in the next academic year.

On June 17, 2021, CERC will hold its Annual General Meeting. The meeting will start at 12.15 with a report from the Management Committee and will conclude with a talk “On Teaching Comparative Education in Asia: Selected Portraits and Features” by Professor Sheng-Ju Chan, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan (12.45-13.45).

In the picture above, [sitting, from left to right], Mark Bray, UNESCO Chair and a former CERC Director, Liz Jackson, EduHK Professor of International Education and a former CERC Director, and Yang Rui, Professor of Chinese Higher Education and Associate Dean-Research, Faculty of Education; [standing, from right to left], Nutsa Kobakhidze, MC member and convener of SIG-Shadow Education, Peter Cobb, MC member, Anatoly Oleksiyenko, CERC Honorary Director and convener of SIG-Higher Education, and Alex Fedorov, Interim Secretary.

All AGM participants will enjoy a limited-time offer – 50% off on all CERC books and monographs.

To register for the AGM, please use this Zoom registration link:…/tJUrcuivqz4qHtOmJ5w9-TWlP18lG5PJNBtj

The Shadow Education SIG events on 2nd and 9th of February

The Shadow Education SIG held two events on 2nd and 9th of February. MED students from HKU: Jiali Chen, Robert Liu, Mako Kato and Ming Yue NG made the presentations of their research projects on mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, and Japan. Thank you to many guests who joined from all over the world.

The Peace, Conflict, and Sustainable Development SIG Event, 27 October 2019

The Peace, Conflict, and Sustainable Development SIG met for a panel discussion on Sunday, 27th of October, learning about refugee and asylum seeker-led organisations in Hong Kong that are changing the narratives and taking charge of their identities in Hong Kong.
We were joined by representatives from Refugee Union, Art Women HK, Harmony HK, and The Africa Center. They shared about the many social, educational, and medical issues faced by asylum seekers and refugees in Hong Kong and also the struggle to re-define the identity of asylum seekers, refugees, and Africans in Hong Kong. In a city that is not as multicultural as it seems, more needs to be known about the many, different people who call Hong Kong home. Only when ignorance is educated, can we change and grow. It was an enlightening, powerful, and emotional afternoon.
Thank you to our panel guests for sharing, and for everyone who was able to join us.

The Shadow Education SIG’s meeting on 23 October, 2019

The Shadow Education SIG members gathered again on 23 October, Wednesday, at 3:30 pm in RMS 403, HKU. The SIG had two speakers: Feng Suyuan (a PhD student) presented on “Brokers Behind the International University Admission:  An Investigation on Education Agents in China” and Wang Haoxian (a guest speaker from Fudan University, China) presented on “The Impact of China’s New Private Education Policy:  Observations from the Private Tutoring Industry”.

The SIG was chaired by Dr Nutsa Kobakhidze and joined by Dr Hugo Horta from HKU and Dr Kevin Yung from the Education University of Hong Kong.

The Shadow Education SIG’s meeting on 2 October, 2019

“The Shadow Education SIG members met on October 2, 2019 to listen to a presentation by a PhD student Pubali Ghosh on “Secondary students’ decision-making on private tutoring in West Bengal, India. The SIG was moderated by Dr Nutsa Kobakhidze and well attended by the current PhD and MEd students. Dr Kevin Yung from the Education University of Hong Kong joined the meeting”.