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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

Education in the Commonwealth: Towards and Beyond the Internationally Agreed Goals

Return to Other CERC Books.

7747045744_db972d4f6b_bTrey Menefee
Mark Bray

2012, 245pp.

Published by the Commonwealth Secretariat,
Produced by the Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC)


Download the book (Dropbox, Google Drive) or visit the book website


Every three years the Ministers of Education and senior officials of the 54 Commonwealth countries convene to share experiences and advance on common agendas.

The 18th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) was held in Mauritius from 28 to 31 August 2012. It focused on progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Education for All (EFA) goals.

Mark Bray and Trey Menefee were contracted by the Commonwealth Secretariat to produce the lead statistical document containing country ‘report cards’, which they presented during the opening session of the Ministers’ meeting. In this seminar they will share observations both on their report, on the nature of the Ministers’ meeting, and on the wider agenda concerning new goals beyond 2015.

Educational Reforms in Russia and China at the Turn of the 21st Century

Return to the CERC Monograph Series.


Nina Ye Borevskaya, V.P. Borisenkov, Xiaoman ZHU

2010, 115 pp.

ISBN 978-988-17852-5-1; 978-988-17852-4-4.

Published by Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC) in collaboration with the UNESCO

HK$100 (local), US$16 (overseas)

Buy from CERC or online

Preview in Google Books



“This important study of educational reform in Russia and China brings to the global research community in comparative education a detailed and thoughtful analysis of the parallel yet divergent educational policies and developments in the two societies over the past 25 years. The intent of the study is both academic and ameliorative scholars from both countries who contributed to the volume are interested in what can be learned from the experiences of the other, and in understanding more generally the common and divergent patterns of educational transition. Striking comparisons between the two societies come up in the dialogues on many related themes. Differences between the “shock therapy” approach to political change in Russia and the gradual change of the Chinese communist system, and their respective educational implications, constitute a central feature of the analysis in this volume.

Borevskaya’s carefully argued summary knits together many of the broad arguments that run through the volume as a whole, while at the same time bringing in nuances and questions that reveal an extraordinary grasp of historical context in the tensions she identifies among three core models in both societies: “an outdated purely state model, a market oriented educational model, and a culture oriented educational model which is congruent with the Chinese and Russian educational traditions, as well as with global tendencies toward humanization.”

Ruth Hayhoe, Comparative Education Review

Early Childhood Care and Education in the Asia Pacific Region: Moving towards Goal 1

Return to the CERC Monograph Series.


Nirmala Rao and Jin Sun

2010, 97pp.
ISBN 978-988-17852-5-1
HK$100 (local), US$16 (overseas)
Published by Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC) in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Order this book from CERC or online.

Or download the book for free.



In 2000, the global community set six goals as part of the Education for All (EFA) agenda. This monograph considers progress towards Goal 1, namely “to expand and improve comprehensive early childhood care and education”.Compelling reasons have been provided for investment in the early years, and much progress has been achieved in Asia and the Pacific. Particularly important are improved access and strengthened quality in early childhood services. However, much remains to be done to enhance child and maternal health, enhance the quality of services, and expand access particularly for children below the age of three. Further progress will require improved monitoring and attention to legislation. The book shows that policy priority and funding for early childhood care and education should markedly increase throughout the region.

Nirmala Rao is a Professor in the Faculty of Education of the University of Hong Kong. Her research focuses on early child development and education in Asia, and she has published widely in the area. She has been an adviser on early child development and education for international developmental agencies, and is actively involved in professional organizations concerned with the well-being of young children.Jin SUN is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Faculty of Education of the University of Hong Kong. Her professional interests include child development in social contexts, early childhood bilingual development, and early childhood education for disadvantaged children.Click here for the book review published in the journal International Review of Education, Volume 58, Number 3 (2012), 427-428

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.

IIEP-CERC Education Sector Planning in Asia

The HKU Faculty of Education, through CERC, has partnered with the International Institute for Educational Planning and JP Morgan to provide educational planning training in South East Asia. The program a practice-oriented 11-month programme to train staff from ministries and other concerned institutions in major techniques for education sector plan preparation and review. Learn more about the program here.

See photos from the classes and a visit to United Christian College below: