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

CERC’s new collaboration with the Faculty of Education, Charles University, Prague

CERC is pleased to announce that a new research project “Parental demand for shadow education: Contexts, processes, determinants and outcomes” secured funding from the Czech Science Foundation in which Dr Nutsa Kobakhidze will collaborate with the Principal Investigator of the project Dr Vít Šťastný.

This marks the continuous collaboration between CERC and the Institute for Research and Development of Education, Faculty of Education, Charles University, Prague. One of the recent outcomes of this collaboration is Orbis Scholae’s special issue “Throwing Light on Shadow Education” in 2020 which was edited by Dr Vít Šťastný and Dr Nutsa Kobakhidze. Full text of the special issue can be found here

Supplementary education at college and its consequences for individuals’ labor market outcomes in the United States

Professor Steve R. Entrich from the University of Potsdam, Germany gave a talk at the Shadow Education SIG on December 3, 2021. Professor Entrich’s talk was based on his recent paper with Professor Soo-yong Byun from Pennsylvania State University “Supplementary Education at College and Its Consequences for Individuals’ Labor Market Outcomes in the United States”.

The SIG seminar was chaired by Dr Nutsa Kobakhidze from HKU and attended by members of the SIG from Hong Kong SAR, Mainland China, Germany, Georgia and Japan.

Portuguese translation of Shadow Education book

CERC’s book entitled Shadow Education in Africa, published first in English in January 2021 and then in French, has now been published in Portuguese.

Its author, Mark Bray, launched the book on 19 November 2021 at a conference hosted by the University of Aveiro in Portugal. The conference focused on the management of education in times of uncertainty. Within this context, Professor Bray first gave a keynote address on shadow education worldwide, before turning specifically to Africa to launch the book.

The event was chaired by the hosted by Alexandre Ventura who is himself a noted researcher on shadow education in Portugal and Brazil and who has excellent connections with Lusophone African countries including Angola and Mozambique. As a former Deputy Minister of Education in Portugal, Professor Ventura is helping to call the book to the attention of policy makers as well as researchers.

The next language in which the book will be published is Arabic. That will complete the set of four main official languages spoken on the African continent.


The SIG seminar on December 3, 2021 at 4:00 pm HKT

The next SIG seminar will take place on December 3, 2021 at 4:00 pm HKT. The presenter will be Professor Steve R. Entrich from the University of Potsdam, Germany. Professor Entrich will talk about his recent published paper “Supplementary Education at College and Its Consequences for Individuals’ Labor Market Outcomes in the United States”. If you are interested in attending the seminar via Zoom, you can write an email to the SIG organiser Dr Nutsa Kobakhidze at

Tutoring or not tutoring: Understanding parents’ agency in children’s early English learning in China

Miss Gwen Zeng from the Education University of Hong Kong presented at the Shadow Education SIG on November 19. Gwen is a PhD student researching shadow education in China under the supervision of Dr. Kevin Yung. Her thesis is entitled as “Tutoring or not tutoring: Understanding parents’ agency in children’s early English learning in China”. More than 25 members of the shadow education SIG attended the presentation from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Germany and the United Kingdom.


Engaging with China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Perspectives from universities in Hong Kong and Kazakhstan

On November 30, 2021 (9pm HKT), please join us for a webinar at Comparative Education Research Centre hosting William Yat Wai Lo, Education University of Hong Kong and Jack Lee, University of Edinburgh, who will share and compare their most recent findings on Kazakhstan’s and Hong Kong’s academic engagement with China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Please see more details in the poster, and use this Zoom link for registration: