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Knowledge Exchange

Admission Olympics: Expanding Tutoring Market for Kindergarten Interviews in Hong Kong

Date: July 15, Thursday, 2021
Time: 10 am to 11:30 am HKT 

Zoom Registration link:

Dr Alfredo Bautista, Associate Professor and Associate Head, Department of Early Childhood Education, The Education University of Hong Kong

Dr Nutsa Kobakhidze, Principal Investigator, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong
Ms Janice Chui, Research Team Member, Former Primary School teacher, MSc. Candidate in the Department of Education, Oxford University, UK
Janisa Hui, Ed.M. Research Team Member, Former Playgroup Teacher. Pursuing PhD Degree in the College of Education, University of Maryland – College Park, USA

Hong Kong is a fast-paced city where busy parents with high aspirations could be under immense pressure. To improve their children’s chance of success in the highly selective process of kindergarten admission, some parents outsource admission preparation to tutorial companies. Over the past decade, interview classes i.e. classes which prepare children for kindergarten interviews have grown in popularity among parents.

This session presents the findings from a qualitative study conducted in mid-2020, which examined the processes and mechanisms involved in kindergarten admission, with a particular focus on understanding the interview class market. The study covered a diversity of views from 78 participants including parents (local and non-local), kindergarten teachers, interview service providers, policy-makers and early childhood educators.

The Knowledge Exchange seminar invites non-academic communities such as parents, teachers, tutors, school leadership and policy-makers. The speakers will discuss implications of the study findings for child development, well-being and education. Special attention will be paid to how the COVID-19 pandemic changed the nature of kindergarten admission preparation services in Hong Kong. 

Supplementary Education: Identifying and Crossing Boundaries

On 9 and 10 December 2017, CERC hosted a remarkable Policy Forum entitled ‘Public-Private Partnerships in Supplementary Education: Sharing Experiences in East Asian Contexts’. The event was co-hosted with UNESCO, and attracted 53 participants from governments, companies, schools, and research institutions from Hong Kong, Japan, Mainland China, and the Republic of Korea.

Group pictureThe starting point was recognition that boundaries in education are less firm than before. Traditionally, formal schooling has been responsibility and domain of the public sector, but recent decades have brought a flourishing private sector in supplementary education. Most obvious is the academic form, provided by small, medium-sized and large companies.

“This was a unique gathering”, remarked ART_5297Mark Bray, the HKU’s UNESCO Chair Professor in Comparative Education. “It is breaking new conceptual ground”, he added, “not only in the four jurisdictions but also globally.” The University, he pointed out, provides a neutral arena in which stakeholders can dialogue on sensitive topics to identify ways forward in service of the common good.

The event brought together directors from both large and small companies, officers in Ministries of Education, and Associations of Supplementary Education Providers.

ART_5242The organizers did not seek consensus on a single mode of operation for every jurisdiction. Rather, they placed in the arena sets of experiences for participants to discuss and learn from each other. They noted that the burden of governments worried about regulation can be alleviated when the supplementary education providers engage in self-regulation. Participants heard various examples, highlighting ways in which all stakeholders can follow their own mandates yet productively serve the common good.

The next steps will include dissemination of key points. Ms Huong Le Thu indicated that UNESCO will play a role, using its global platform to disseminate the findings from East Asia to the wider community.

Myanmar: Launching a New Phase in Educational Development

Myanmar has been in a new era since the assumption of office on 30 March 2016 of the country’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu1 Kyi. The new government is determined to bring change, and places education high on the list of priorities.

On 21 and 22 July 2016, the Ministry of Education hosted a forum on basic education in Naypyitaw, the nation’s capital. Approximately 700 persons assembled from all over the country, representing every level in administration of the education system. Mark Bray, UNESCO Chair Professor in Comparative Education, was privileged to deliver the opening keynote address entitled ‘Control of Education: Issues and Tensions in Centralization and Decentralization’. The forum was opened by Aung San Suu Kyi, and Mark Bray took the opportunity to thank her for accepting an Honorary Doctorate from HKU in 2012.

During the address, Mark Bray recalled his own links with Myanmar, including participation in the UNESCO-sponsored Education Sector Study in 1990/91and the 2012 multi-donor partnership to chart directions in the education and health sectors. He also noted other links between HKU and Myanmar, including the programmes through which HKU students can teach English.

2The next stage of collaboration with Myanmar under the umbrella of the UNESCO chair will focus on shadow education. It is expected to begin with collection of data on the roles of regular teachers in private tutoring, and will proceed to policy dialogue among stakeholders.



Rethinking Education

UNESCO has published a vision statement entitled Rethinking Education: Towards a Global Common Good?. It is a sequel to the1groundbreaking 1996 Delors Report “Learning: the Treasure Within”. The new document recognises fundamental changes in the decades since 1996, and stresses that review of the purpose of education and the organisation of learning has never been more urgent “in a world of increasing complexity, uncertainty and contradiction”.

The publication results from several years of work by a distinguished panel and the UNESCO Secretariat, and with inputs from many partners. Among those inputs was a panel of UNESCO Chairs, led by HKU, at the World Congress of Comparative Education Societies in Buenos Aires, June 2013.

The HKU Chair is pleased to see recognition of its work on shadow education (p.74), including citation of the HKU-CERC book Regulating Private Tutoring for Public Good: Policy Options for Supplementary Education in Asia.

Knowledge Exchange with the Shadow Education Sector in Korea and China

Mark Bray, Ora Kwo, Abbas Arani, Li Wenjian and Zhang Wei were invited to the First International Conference on Hakwon Education held on 11 April, 2015. Click here to watch the news report on the event in MBN.

Mark Bray and Ora Kwo gave a keynote speech on regulating private tutoring for public good in the opening of the conference. It was also an occasion to launch the Korean version of their book: CERC Monograph Series 10, “Regulating Private Tutoring for Public Good: Policy Options for Supplementary Education in Asia“.


Immediately after this conference, Mark Bray and Ora Kwo launched the Chinese translation of the book, entitled 以公众利益规范私人补习:亚洲补习教育之政策选择  on 15 April 2015 at the CETU 10th anniversary conference in Zhengzhou, China. The CETU is a co-publisher of this version, together with the UNESCO office in Beijing.

cetu merge

The launch was held as a keynote address in the opening ceremony of the conference, attended by over 2,000 people. The book is nowavailable for free download here, from CETU and from UNESCO-Beijing.