Browsing Tag

shadow education

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.

Reaching Audiences through Different Media

Following the launch of the CERC book Shadow Education in Africa: Private Supplementary Tutoring and its Policy Implications, efforts have been made to reach diverse audiences. Two channels for doing so are:

The book is also the focus of a FreshEd podcast during which Professor Bray was interviewed by Will Brehm. 

The FreshEd interview was wide-ranging, and touched on Brehm’s own studies of private tutoring in Cambodia. His book Cambodia for Sale: Everyday Privatization in Education and Beyond has just been published by Routledge. It is based on his PhD thesis completed at the University of Hong Kong. The remarks during the podcast showed some similarities between parts of Africa and of Southeast Asia. 

Policies for Shadow Education in Myanmar

On 18 September 2018, Mark Bray, Nutsa Kobakhidze and Ora Kwo presented a CERC seminar about their UNESCO-funded research in Myanmar. This work was conducted with support from the Yangon University of Education (YUOE), and has led to a manuscript that in due course will be published in CERC’s monograph series.

The CERC seminar noted that 10 days later the work would be considered by Myanmar’s Ministry of Education. The Ministry had organised a full morning for presentation and discussion. The event was opened by the Deputy Minister for Education, and brought together both policy-makers and practitioners from Naypyitaw, Yangon and elsewhere.

The HKU team was proud to see the CERC logo alongside the HKU, YUOE and UNESCO logos on the stage. The report was presented by Mark Bray and Ora Kwo, with support from Zhang Wei, Liu Junyan and Peter Suante (pictured below, left to right).


“This was is the first empirical study of its kind in Myanmar,” remarked the coordinator in the UNESCO office. “The government is taking its findings seriously, and will identify its policy implications within the context of the National Education Strategic Plan.”


The CERC team is delighted to have had the opportunity to conduct the study over a period of two years. It looks forward to ongoing dialogue with stakeholders in Myanmar, and will also disseminate the findings internationally.

The Policy Brief prepared by the authors can be downloaded here.

A special issue of the Orbis Scholae on Shadow Education

Dear members of the Shadow Education SIG,

It is our pleasure to invite you to submit a paper on shadow education in a special issue of the Orbis Scholae. The special issue will focus on various aspects and dimensions of the shadow education. We are keen to receive papers that explore the links and interrelationships between formal and shadow education system(s) within different social, cultural or economic contexts.

If you are interested to contribute a paper, please first submit a letter of interest by sending us the title and the abstract (about 500 words) of a prospective paper by February 28, 2019 ( and

The issue will be published by the end of 2020. More information about the journal and the special issue can be found on this website.

With best wishes,

Guest editors

Vít Šťastný & Nutsa Kobakhidze

Regulating Private Tutoring Book Launch in Bangkok

launch2UNESCO’s Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok) has today launched a book entitled Regulating Private Tutoring for Public Good: Policy Options for Supplementary Education in Asia.  

The book focuses on the extensive scale of private tutoring in countries of the region, regardless of their development status. For example surveys have found that:

  • in Hong Kong, 54% of Grade 9 students and 72% of Grade 12 students receive private supplementary tutoring;
  • in India, 73% of children aged 6-14 in rural West Bengal receive tutoring;
  • in the Republic of Korea, the proportion reaches 86.8% in elementary school; and
  • in Vietnam, respective proportions in lower and upper secondary schooling are 46% and 63%.

The tutoring consumes huge amounts of household finance, and has far-reaching implications for social inequalities, let alone the huge implications it has for school education services. Yet few governments have satisfactory regulations for the phenomenon.

 The book’s authors are Mark Bray, UNESCO Chair Professor in Comparative Education at the University of Hong Kong, and Ora Kwo, Associate Professor in the same University. They have worked on this theme for over a decade, much of it in collaboration with UNESCO.

launch1“UNESCO’s mandate permits and demands attention to this important issue,” remarked Professor Bray. “The organization coordinates the global Education for All (EFA) agenda, and leads the shaping of the post-2015 education framework. It is strongly concerned about equitable access to quality education.” UNESCO provides an arena in which governments can learn from each other about policies that are desirable and feasible.

Regulations for teachers and companies

One major question is whether teachers should be permitted to provide private supplementary tutoring. This is permitted in some countries but prohibited in others. Particularly problematic are settings in which teachers tutor the same students for whom they are already responsible during regular school hours. This situation encourages corruption, with the teachers reducing effort during normal hours in order to promote demand for the private lessons.

A separate question concerns companies. Most governments require tutorial companies to register, but are more likely to treat them as businesses than as educational institutions. Regulations for tutoring companies are only beginning to catch up with those for schools, but are arguably almost as important. Governments have a responsibility for overall social and economic development, which includes ensuring an appropriate environment for private sector institutions.

Learning from comparing

Gwang-Jo Kim, Director of UNESCO Bangkok, highlighted patterns in the Republic of Korea (ROK), with which he is intimately familiar as he served as Deputy Minister of Education there before joining UNESCO. The ROK government has devoted most effort to regulations over the longest period. “Yet even ROK has not yet found all the answers,” remarked Mr Kim. “Governments can see the challenges as well as useful strategies in the South Korean case.”

In South and Southeast Asia, in any case, conditions are rather different from those in South Korea. UNESCO has long recognised the diversity in the region, whether in the contexts or in the experiences. The lessons in this book highlight the value of comparisons across countries in all categories.

Regulating Private Tutoring for Public Good: Policy Options for Supplementary Education in Asia

Mark Bray and Ora Kwo

ISBN 978‐988‐17852‐9‐9

March 2014; 93 pages;


Published by Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC) in collaboration with 
the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizaton 

The book can be downloaded for free or ordered from CERC.
Recent years have brought global expansion of private supplementary tutoring alongside regular school systems. This expansion has far-reaching implications for the nurturing of new generations, for social and economic development, and for the operation of school systems. Some dimensions are positive while other dimensions are problematic.

Supplementary tutoring is especially visible in Asia. The formats of tutoring range from one-to-one provision to large classes. Some tutoring is provided by teachers and by specialist companies, while other tutoring is provided informally by university students and others.

Using a comparative lens, this book examines possible government responses to the expansion of private supplementary tutoring. In general, the book suggests, the sector should be given more attention. The work shows wide diversity in the regulations introduced by governments in the Asian region. It notes not only that these governments can learn much from each other, but also that policy makers in other parts of the world can usefully look at patterns in Asia. The book also stresses the value of partnerships between governments, tutoring providers, schools, teachers’ unions, and other bodies.

Mark BRAY is UNESCO Chair Professor in Comparative Education at the University of Hong Kong, and is a former Director of UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning.

Ora KWO is an Associate Professor and a member of the Comparative Education Research Centre in the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong.

Review published in:

Asia Pacific Journal of Education, Volume 34, Issue 4, 2014: 518-519

Giáo dục Ngoài luồng: Học thêm và Ý nghĩa của nó đối với các Nhà hoạch định Chính sách ở châu Á


Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 10.36.36 PM

Tại tất cả các khu vực của châu Á, các hộ gia đình đang dành một khoản chi tiêu đáng kể cho học thêm. Việc học thêm có thể góp phần vào những thành tích đạt được của học sinh nhưng đồng thời nó cũng duy trì và và làm cho bất bình đẳng xã hội thêm trầm trọng, làm chuyển hướng các nguồn lực vốn được dùng cho mục đích khác và có thể góp phần vào sự không hiệu quả của các hệ thống giáo dục.

Việc học thêm được nhìn nhận chung là giáo dục ngoài luồng vì nó bám theo hệ thống trường chính khóa. Khi chương trình giảng dạy của hệ thống chính khóa thay đổi, chương trình giảng dạy của giáo dục ngoài luồng cũng thay đổi theo.

Tài liệu nghiên cứu này ghi nhận quy mô và tính chất của giáo dục ngoài luồng tại những địa bàn khác nhau trong khu vực. Trong nhiều thập kỷ, giáo dục ngoài luồng đã trở thành một hiện tượng lớn ở Đông Á. Giờ đây nó đã lan rộng ra toàn khu vực và có những ý nghĩa xã hội và ý nghĩa kinh tế sâu rộng.

Bạn có thể tải về bản sao Việt Nam ở đây


  • Lời nói đầu
  • Tóm lược Tổng quan
  • Giới thiệu
  • Phác thảo bức tranh toàn cảnh
  • Cung và Cầu
  • Tác động của Giáo dục Ngoài luồng
  • Ý nghĩa đối với các nhà hoạch định chính sách
  • Kết luận
  • Phụ lục: Các quy định về học thêm
  • Tài liệu tham khảo

Shadow Education: Private Supplementary Tutoring and Its Implications for Policy Makers in Asia

Return to the CERC Monograph Series.


Mark Bray and Chad Lykins

May 2012

ISBN 978-92-9092-658-0 (Print)
ISBN 978-92-9092-659-7 (PDF)

US$32 Published by Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC) in collaboration with Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Order from CERC or online



In all parts of Asia, households devote considerable expenditures to private supplementary tutoring. This tutoring may contribute to students’ achievement, but it also maintains and exacerbates social inequalities, diverts resources from other uses, and can contribute to inefficiencies in education systems.

Such tutoring is widely called shadow education, because it mimics school systems. As the curriculum in the school system changes, so does the shadow.

This study documents the scale and nature of shadow education in different parts of the region. For many decades, shadow education has been a major phenomenon in East Asia. Now it has spread throughout the region, and it has far-reaching economic and social implications.

Review published in:

Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, Volume 45, Number 1, 2015: 176-179

Journal für Bildungsforschung Online (Journal for Educational Research Online), Volume 6, No. 1, 2014: 169–172

International Review of Education, Volume 58, Issue 6, 2012: 809-811

Related links:
– Casting a Long Shadow on Asian Education


Shadow Education Bibliography


The CERC Shadow Education Special Interest Group has moved the shadow education bibliography to database format to better accomodate our more than 400 entries. Each entry has been coded for easier searching. Codes include countries, language, regions, chronology, themes, and document type. Be aware that this is a work in progress and one might find small errors and duplicates. The old bibliography can be found here.

The database, in full, can be viewed here [opens in new window].

The database (updated version), in full, can be viewed here [opens in new window].

Within Evernote, one can search for one of multiple tags or text. For instance, one can search for “China” and “inequality” or “Bray” and “policy.”

If you’d like to add something to the database, please e-mail us.

NEW: see articles written by the HKU Shadow Education SIG Members!

Search by theme

Search by region / country grouping

Search by chronology

CERC Policy Forum

Regulating the Shadow Education System: Private Tutoring and Government Policies in Asia

A Policy Forum on “Regulating the Shadow Education System: Private Tutoring and Government Policies in Asia” was  held at the University of Hong Kong between the 8th and 9th April 2013. This Policy Forum was organized by the Comparative Education Research Centre at HKU in partnership with the Asian Development Bank and the UNESCO Bangkok regional office.

To learn more about what was discussed and proposed at the Policy Forum, visit the permanent Policy Forum page at the Shadow Education SIG website.