Books now available in Arabic

CERC is delighted to extend its linguistic reach through partnership with the UNESCO Regional Center for Educational Planning (RCEP) in the United Arab Emirates.

CERC’s Monograph series includes a book by Mark Bray entitled Shadow Education in Africa. This book is already available for free download in English,  French, and Portuguese. It is now joined by Arabic.

Alongside is the book by Mark Bray and Anas Hajar entitled Shadow Education in the Middle East. The English version of this book, published by Routledge, is available here for free download from the CERC website. The  Arabic version is available here.

CERC Management Committee Meeting

On October 28, 2022, the CERC Management Committee met to discuss the plan for the year 2022-2023.


Nutsa Kobakhidze (Elected Honorary Director),

Peter Cobb (Elected Member),

Lili Yang (Elected Member),

Nancy Law (Ex-officio member, Associate Dean – Research),

Mark Bray (Co-opted Member),

Anatoly Oleksiyenko (Co-opted Member),

Stefan Auer (Co-opted Member).

Renxiang Tian (Acting Secretary).

The meeting discussed the new secretary of CERC, CERC membership management, the new SIG proposal, and CERC 5-year review which will be scheduled in April 2023.

What Happened to the Soviet University? A Book Presentation

CERC will hold the next webinar on November 24 (Thu), 2022, 04:00-05:30 pm. HKT. Maia Chankseliani, Associate Professor of Comparative and International Education and Fellow at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford, will present the seminar on her new book entitled “What Happened to the Soviet University?”

What Happened to the Soviet University?

A Book Presentation

By Maia Chankseliani

Chair: Nutsa Kobakhidze


This talk explores how one of the largest geopolitical changes of the twentieth century triggered and inspired the reconfiguration of the Soviet university. These universities have survived chaotic processes of post-Soviet transformation and have self-stabilised with time. Most of them remain flagship institutions with large numbers of students and relatively high research productivity. Yet, as the talk illustrates, the majority of these universities operate in a top-down, one-man management environment with limited institutional autonomy and academic freedom.

Maia Chankseliani is an Associate Professor of Comparative and International Education and Fellow at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford.

Nutsa Kobakhidze is the director of the Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC) & Assistant Professor in Comparative and International Education at the University of Hong Kong  


Date: Thursday, 24th November 2022  

Time: 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm HKT   

Venue: Online via Zoom


You can also see the poster below for more information:

Shadow Education SIG Meetings

In October 2022, CERC held two Shadow Education SIG meetings on the 14th and 21st. Four former MEd students presented their capstone projects on shadow education-related research. 

Presentation Titles

October 14th

·         Identity Construction of Shadow Education Teachers in the Context of the “Double Reduction” Policy 

·         Reflections of “Critical Hope”: Examining Hong Kong community organizations and grassroots families’ experiences with fee-free tutoring during the pandemic

October 21st

·         Voice of Parents: Reactions and Plights after the Crackdown on Shadow Education — A Case Study of Twelve Lanzhou Households

·         Leaps of Imagination & Excitement of Possibilities: Reflections on capstone project “Parents’ perspectives to private tutoring crackdown in Shanghai, mainland China: A multiple case study in understanding parental agency”

For more information, please see the poster below:

Both events were joined by CERC members and members of Shadow Education SIG.

Imagining and configuring social-emotional learning alternatively: What Confucianism and Daoism may inspire us?

A webinar was held by CERC on 28 October, 2022 entitled “Imagining and configuring social-emotional learning alternatively: What Confucianism and Daoism might inspire us to do?” This seminar was presented by Yun You, Associate Professor of Education at East China Normal University, and chaired by Yanping Fang, Associate Professor of Nanyang Technological University’s National Institute of Education.

Below is the abstract and poster for your information.


Taking the recently-popularising social-emotional learning as an illustrative example, this talk attempts to move beyond the ‘universal applicability’ of Western theories to non-Western societies, while not falling into the stereotypical ‘East-West’ dichotomy. As an alternative, classic Confucianism and Daoism, echoing many other indigenous worldviews, may inspire us to reconceptualise emotional learning with the focus on ‘interrelatedness-cum-uniqueness’ (‘关联-独特性’) in achieving social-ecological harmonisation and wellbeing. The discussion builds on the speaker’s related publication in the Educational Philosophy and Theory.


The seminar was joined by CERC members, scholars and research students based in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Singapore and Japan.


Shadow Education in the Middle East

CERC is glad to announce the publication of Shadow Education in the Middle East: Private Supplementary Tutoring and its Policy Implications. It is a path-breaking study of a region that has received little attention in the shadow education literature, and can be downloaded here.


The book has been written by Mark Bray, who holds the UNESCO Chair in Comparative Education at HKU, and Anas Hajar who is an Associate Professor at Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan. Both Mark Bray and Anas Hajar, who is a Syrian national, have undertaken empirical and policy-oriented work on shadow education in the Middle East as well as elsewhere.


The book focuses on 12 Arabic-speaking countries of the region. Six of these countries are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), i.e. Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates. The other six are Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Yemen. The GCC members are known for the prosperity brought by oil resources, and can usefully be compared as a group with the other six. At the same time, much diversity exists within each group.


CERC has a long history of research on shadow education. This book is an explicit sequel to Shadow Education in Africa, written by Mark Bray and published by CERC in 2021. Other books focus on Myanmar (Bray, Kobakhidze & Kwo, 2020),  Georgia (Kobakhidze, 2018), and Asia (Bray & Lykins, 2012). More information on the Shadow Education Special Interest Group (SIG) can be obtained here.

CERC’s New Honorary Director

On 28 June, 2022, at the management committee meeting CERCs elected members announced a change in leadership  Dr. Nutsa Kobakhidze has become CERCs new Honorary Director, replacing Dr. Anatoly Oleksiyenko. The management committee members expressed appreciation towards Dr. Anatoly Oleksiyenko for his leadership that took place under crisis circumstances due to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The management committee members wished Dr. Kobakhidze success in her tenure as a new CERC Director.  

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