Private Supplementary Tutoring As A Tool For School Improvement
The aim of this research is to examine the role and affects of private supplementary tutoring as a tool for school improvement. More specifically, the interest is in establishing if there are any positive or negative implications of private supplementary tutoring on mainstream education and school improvement in general.
The growth of private supplementary tutoring has been traced in many countries around the world, regardless of a country’s both political and economic situation. This mainly has been endeavored by actions of much government, international and commercial agencies that have been designed to address the new demands of a ‘learning economy’. As it is known, the use and intensity of private tutoring varies from country to country. In some countries, like Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc. it is used for enrichment strategies that is, for scholastic achievement, whereas in developing countries of South -Eastern Asia, Latin America, and in most of post-soviet countries, it can be considered as a ‘reaction to underdevelopment’ of formal schooling system (Baker et al, 2001). As a result, it has grown into a big enterprise with various implications on the mainstream education and its all stakeholders. And yet the topic has been neglected by many educational policymakers and researchers around the world (Popa and Acedo, 2006; (Bray, 2003).
The findings of many published researches claim that private supplementary tutoring positively influences on students’ attainment in mainstream education and also on their attitude to schooling in general. However, only a few of them publicize the heavy burdens placed on mainstream education that poses many fundamental questions of social inequalities and cause of misbalance in the classrooms of formal schooling (Bray, 2007).
The difficulties of the transformation period have resulted in a deterioration of the quality of education provided in public schools of Central Asia. As a result, the demand for private supplementary tutorials has rapidly increased by both students and their parents as an important supplement to the rigid public school system in the region.
The public school system in rural areas of post-soviet republics is weak for all known reasons. Although there have been attempts by many international donor projects that tried to reform the whole school system both in urban and rural parts of Central Asian republics, but unfortunately, the outcomes were of little success particularly in the rural areas. Confronted by this, the School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE), University of Central Asia (UCA) launched the English in Villages with the purpose of assisting the children of one of the rural and remotest districts of the region to be more competitive in their future studies and life. In doing so, the SPCE uses the pubic system as a base via using the school premises and involving the same teachers in the programme (in informal conversation with Dr.Krawchenko, the dean of UCA, 2009).
As it mentioned above, there are many forms of supplementary tutoring. But in my research, I would like to look at the theme of private supplementary tutoring in an instructive way from an angle that has not been widely explored before, that is, private supplementary tutoring in the context of private/public complementarity (or partnership), when private educational institutions provide private supplementary tutorials using the public system as a base. Hence, I would like to examine the affects of this partnership on mainstream education and state curriculum. As a basis for my research, I will conduct a summative evaluation of the English in Villages programme
How does the public-private partnership impact on the mainstream education?
Background and Existing Research
The first significant work into private supplementary tutoring and its implications was done by Mark Bray  as part of his comparative study on household costs spent on supplementing their children’s schooling in Bhutan (Bray, 1995). Definitely, Mark Bray is a thought leader of the researchers in the field of private supplementary tutoring who has shed lights on the system that has been going in parallel with mainstream education.
Based on the research findings, Bray (2007) claims that the phenomenon of private supplementary tutoring exists both in developed and less developed or developing countries all over the world. The reasons of why this industry has been blooming vary. So do the effects. As Bray (2007) states that it has positive effects on weak students in catching up with school curriculum or for strong students to keep aspired on their academic success, which in turn affects on economic growth in case of Hong Kong (Bray and Kwok, 2003)
But at the same time, it has negative implications as well. Wealthy families spend sometimes too much money on arranging tutoring for their children so they could either successfully sit for annual school exams or further their education in higher educational institutions. As a result, low income families may find themselves under the pressure of following those families who can easily afford tutoring. In most cases, poor families simply cannot afford their kids to receive supplementary tutoring. Besides, private tutoring can cause corruption and academic dishonesty in schools, mainly by teachers who manipulate in delivering the school curriculum and put pressure on students to follow tutoring offered by them in case of Romania (Bray, 2003; Bray, 2007; Popa and Acedo, 2006)
Research Design and Methods
“What you do not see you cannot describe”
From Halcom’s Evaluation Proverbs as cited in Patton (1980, p.265).
The research design will employ a qualitative approach using three qualitative methods of data collection which are specific to most evaluation researches in education. They are (a) in-depth interviews, open ended or semi structured interviews; (b) direct class observation and (c) analysis of written documents such as programme proposals, revisions and minutes of meetings, etc. (Patton, 1987). These methods are considered to be one of the main ‘hallmarks’ of the educational evaluation research that provide valuable information on the experiences and perceptions of the participants involved in the programme (Kellaghan et al, 2003).
For the purpose of collecting broader issue- driven data and in order to understand how programme staff and participants view the programme, the interviews will be held as semi-structured and in most cases, open ended. As Patton (Patton, 1980) notes open-ended interviews help ‘to capture the complexities of their individual perceptions and experiences’ without forcing them to fit their perceptions into the limited areas highlighted by the evaluator. The semi-structured interviews will be conducted with the school teachers and the programme coordinator. With the top management (director, director deputy) I suggest of using open-ended interviews.
For similar reasons as in interviews, observations tend to be unstructured or semi-structured as well. The data from class observations will include direct class observations of both supplementary tutorials after school and mainstream school classes with the teachers and students both those who receive the supplementary tutoring and those who do not. Focus will be empathized on observing the differences and affects in pupils’ attitudes and participation in mainstream school class that may be potentially affected by the programme. Document analysis includes programme management’s correspondence, meeting minutes, extracts from reports and programme proposals.
Review and analysis of relevant documents and artifacts will assist in strengthening and shaping the data quality and ‘decretive validity’. It will include review of programme proposal, reports, correspondence between the programme management and the schools, memos, etc. (Kellaghan et al, 2003)
There are some potential challenges of using video camera during the interviews with both teachers and the programme coordinator since I am an outsider. I suppose being interviewed under the lenses of video camera with an outsider, interviewees may change their natural behaviour and in some stage, even feel frustrated, as a result of it, the data to be collected from them may not be completely reliable.
For these purposes, I propose the use of dictaphone and where possible just take notes. A video camera can be used either during the class observations or focus groups with the pupils. Before using the video camera, I will have a prior conversation with both the teacher and students to explain them the purpose of my observation of their class with a video camera. If they still feel uncomfortable at being videotaped, I will just have to respect their wish and take notes and use a dictaphone.
“But because you can describe something does not mean you can interpret it”
From Halcom’s Evaluation Proverbs as cited in Patton (1980, p.265).
The data from the fieldwork will include the full transcriptions of data from interviews, class observations, the focus group with the pupils and the review of programme related documentary data. Afterwards; they will be coded and categorized into discrete parts. Once all data have been coded, they will be closely examined, compared for similarities and differences and questions are asked about the phenomena and affects of the private supplementary tutoring as reflected in the main research question.
This is an evaluation of an educational programme that involves programme staff, programme top management, teachers and school pupils which puts a lot of challenges for me in terms of ethical considerations during the data collection process. Hence, with the purpose of maintain all ethical standards, all participants will be informed both in verbal and written form about the nature of my research, which will guarantee them, complete confidentiality and anonymity.
First of all, research guarantees the participants confidentiality -- they are assured in a written form that any identifying information will not be made available to anyone who is both directly and non- directly involved in the study.
Second, the participants will be asked for consent to be videotaped or observed prior to the process of data collection that tends to use the audio-video equipments.
Outcomes and Dissemination
What will come out of your research?
Will you be distributing the findings? How, and to whom?
Baker, D., Akiba, M., LeTendre, G. and Wiseman, A. (2001). 'Worldwide shadow education: Outside-school learning, institutional quality of schooling, and cross-national mathematics achievement'. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 23 (1), 1.
Bray, M. (1995). The costs and financing of primary schooling in Bhutan. Bhutan: Unicef [and] the Ministry of Health and Education.
Bray, M. (2003). Adverse effects of private supplementary tutoring: dimensions, implications and government responses. Paris: International Institute for Educational Planning.
Bray, M. (2007). The shadow education system : private tutoring and its implications for planners. (2nd Ed.). Paris: Unesco: International Institute for Educational Planning.
Bray, M. and Kwok, P. (2003). 'Demand for private supplementary tutoring: conceptual considerations, and socio-economic patterns in Hong Kong'. Economics of Education Review, 22 (6), 611-620.
Hitchcock, G. and Hughes, D. (1995). Research and the teacher : a qualitative introduction to school-based research. (2nd Ed.). London: Routledge.
Kellaghan, T., Stufflebeam, D. L., Wingate, L. A., Gipps, C. and Stobart, G. (2003). International handbook of educational evaluation. Dordrecht ; London: Kluwer Academic.
Patton, M. Q. (1980). Qualitative evaluation methods. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.
Patton, M. Q. (1987). How to use qualitative methods in evaluation. (2nd Ed.). Newbury Park, Calif. ; London: Sage.
Popa, S. and Acedo, C. (2006). 'Redefining professionalism: Romanian secondary education teachers and the private tutoring system'. International Journal of Educational Development, 26 (1), 98-110.
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