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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.

Upgrading and Regulating the Tutoring Industry in China

The tutoring industry in China, as elsewhere, is developing at great speed. The number of tutors now approximates the number IMG_1119of teachers. The sector thus has far-reaching influence on the lives of children and families, and is a major employer.

China’s authorities are concerned about standards in the industry, and perceive a need to regulate the competences of tutors. They asked the Chinese Society of Education (CSE), which was established in 1979 and acts as a bridge between the Ministry of Education and other actors, to consult key players on scope and mechanisms for regulation. A draft document has been prepared.

On 27 December 2016, the CSE convened a major conference in Beijing to consider the matter. Mark Bray made an opening statement calling attention to UNESCO goals, and he and Ora Kwo then jointly presented a keynote address. Their messages drew attention to social responsibilities, and gave prominence to the Chinese translation of their book Regulating Private Tutoring for Public Good that had been co-published in 2015 by the HKU Comparative Education Research Centre, UNESCO-Beijing, and the China Education Training Union.

The whole-day event attracted major players from the tutoring industry, and considerable press coverage. Ora Kwo has been appointed to a 10-person committee to take proposals to the next stage.

 

 

 

 

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