The importance of shadow education

Shadow education, or private supplementary tutoring, is not being given adequate importance because of the priority accorded to mainstream tutoring.



  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Mon 30 Aug 2010, 1:35 PM

Last updated: Tue 24 Jan 2023, 12:09 PM

However, it strongly impacts the financial and social status of individuals and school systems, as it reflects the changes initiated in mainstream education and resonates with people worldwide, according to Professor Mark Bray, Chair Professor Director of Comparative Education Research Centre at the University of Hong Kong.

Prof. Bray shared his research findings and personal comments during a lecture on “Confronting the shadow education system: what government policies for what private tutoring?” which is also the title of his most recently published book. The event, held at the Dubai School of Government, a research and teaching institution focusing on public policy in the Arab world, was attended by academic professionals and executives from Dubai and the UAE.

Focusing on the shadow education system of private supplementary tutoring, Prof. Mark Bray examined its scale, nature and implications in a range of settings and identified the possible government responses to the phenomenon.

He said: “Supplementary private tutoring can have positive dimensions. It helps students cover the curriculum, provides a structured occupation for young people outside school hours, and offers income to the tutors.

“Shadow education may also have negative dimensions, as gauged from the South Korean experience. If left to market forces, tutoring is likely to maintain or even increase social inequalities and can create excessive pressure for young people who have insufficient time for non-academic activities. Additionally, school teachers providing extra tutoring in exchange for fees from their own pupils is definitely another serious problem.”

Prof. Bray also discussed the cost associated with private tutoring, which has long been vigorous in East Asia, but is also currently emerging in Africa, Western Europe, North America, and Australia with deeper roots in Eastern Europe. According to published surveys, Greece’s expenditure in 2007 on private tutoring amounted to EU1.7 billion. In 2009, Germany spent EU1.5 billion, whereas in South Korea it reached a total of US$24 billion in 2006, equalling 2.8 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

As for the UAE, and according to the Abu Dhabi household survey in the fourth quarter of 2009, nearly 27 percent of Emirati families with children spent an average of AED1,436 per month for private tutoring, equivalent to 4.8 percent of a monthly household expenditure.

Education expert and DSG Acting Director of Research Dr. Natasha Ridge said “Prof. Bray’s discussion was enlightening, and we are delighted to host him at DSG to shed light and initiate a discussion on shadow education. Understanding and researching can help regulate tutoring and divert private coaching in a direction that can benefit the society and the school system.”

Established in 2005 in cooperation with the Harvard Kennedy School, the Dubai School of Government is committed to the creation of knowledge and the dissemination of global best practices in the Arab world. The institution conducts various programs that seek to enhance the region’s capacity for effective public policies.


More news from UAE