The Comparative Education Research Centre-CERC had set up a Special Interest Group (SIG) in Shadow Education, this is a increasingly visible phenomenon both in Hong Kong and in many other parts of the world. The system of private supplementary tutoring is widely called shadow education because much of it mimics the mainstream.
Shadow education is defined based in three parameters:
- supplementation: tutoring which covers subjects which are already covered in school, and excluding, for example, language classes for minority children whose families were anxious that new generations retained competence in languages not taught in mainstream schools.
- privateness: tutoring provided in exchange for a fee,as opposed to unpaid tutoring provided by families or community members or extra tutoring provided by teachers as part of their professional commitments and responsibilities.
- academic subjects: particularly languages, mathematics, and other examinable subjects, and excluding musical, artistic or sporting skills which are learned primarily for pleasure and/or for a more rounded form of personal development.
Shadow education has far-reaching implications for the processes of schooling, for social inequalities, and for the lives of students, families and teachers.