The Public Private Education System Education Essay

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The boundaries between the public and private provision of schooling in Cambodia have become increasingly blurred. While the number of private schools remains marginal and generally limited to elite schools in urban areas, privatisation is entering public schools-invisibly and often unofficially-on an unprecedented scale. Given policy pressures from international financial institutions, the boundaries between the public and the private are sometimes purposefully erased by government officials in the name of universal primary education and Education for All (EFA) in order to channel private funds into a severely underfunded public education system. In this context, the private provision of education not only becomes attractive to policymakers as a viable mechanism in closing the funding gap but also reflects government's commitment to deregulation, decentralization, and marketisation of the economy since the 1990s. In addition to government-led efforts, hidden privatisation of education also thrives at the grass-root levels in the form of private tutoring, which allows teachers to supplement their meagre salaries with additional income and offers students education of higher quality compared to public schools.

Notwithstanding the positive aspects of private tutoring-such as expanding knowledge and interests for individuals (Bray, 2007), accumulating human capital for societies (Psacharopoulos & Patrinos, 2002), and providing new strategies for coping with rapid geopolitical transitions for a variety of education stakeholders (Silova, 2009; Silova & Brehm, 2013)-the private tutoring in Cambodia has grown in size to such an extent that it is now arguably greater in demand, value, and income generation than the public education system. In essence, private tutoring has become more important to both teachers and students in Cambodia than the public education system because of its ability to generate higher incomes for teachers and provide a more complete (and individualized) education to students. The private provision of education through private tutoring has assumed similar forms to public education, becoming both a differentiated demand (focused primarily on subjects examined on national tests or thought to provide better job opportunities) and excess demand (meeting the inadequate supply of public education). It has, in effect, usurped the legitimacy of public education in Cambodia.

Although the Cambodian government made attempts to abolish registration fees in the 1990s, prohibit informal fees like purchasing examination papers from teachers in 2005, and label private tutoring unethical in 2008 (see Asian Development Bank, 2008; Royal Government of Cambodia, 2008), it has not enforced such policies. Left unregulated, the market for private tutoring has begun to distort the mainstream curricula by shifting significant portions of curricular content from the public to the private provision of education. For example, some studies report public school teachers "blackmailing" their own students into attending extra lessons (Bray, 2007; Dawson, 2009). Other studies have shown a significant amount of new curricular material or homework being presented in private tutoring classes (Brehm & Silova, 2012). Since many teachers live in poverty because of limited or stretched income (Benveniste et al., 2008: 62), withholding information during mainstream education becomes one way to ensure a market for private tutoring. Yet, the costs associated with private tutoring prohibit many students from attending these supplementary lessons, thus contributing to socioeconomic inequities (Bray, 1999a, 2007; Dawson, 2009).

Building on previous research about the scope and nature of private tutoring in Cambodia (Bray, 2007; Dawson, 2009), this study aims to directly address quality and equity implications of private tutoring in the broader context of privatisation of public education. The main research question examines why, how, and under what circumstances privatisation of public education takes the form of private tutoring and what implications this hidden privatisation has for the quality and equity of education provision for Cambodian youth. Following an overview of previous research on private tutoring in the Southeast Asian and international context, we situate the study of private tutoring in the political, economic, and historical context of Cambodia. Drawing on qualitative and quantitative data collected in 2011 in one district in Cambodia (including three schools in an urban location and three schools in a rural location), this study identifies factors driving the demand for private tutoring, compares pedagogies used in public school classes and private tutoring lessons, and examines implications of private tutoring for long-term social and economic equity among Cambodian youth.

Conceptualizing Private Tutoring:

The Public-Private Hybrid Education System

Systems of private tutoring are growing worldwide. In Europe, most European Union countries experience some level of private tutoring (Bray, 2011); in the United States, private tutoring is estimated to be a US$5 billion industry; [1] and in Hong Kong, private tutoring has become so popular that images of famous tutors are regularly found in newspaper and bus advertisements (Kwo & Bray, 2011). There is even a Chinese private tutoring company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. [2] However, private tutoring is not limited to Western and economically developed countries. It has also been found in countries as diverse as Egypt (Fergany, 1994), India (Aggarwal, 1998), and Kenya (Nzomo et al., 2001). Asia is perhaps the continent where private tutoring is most widespread (Bray & Lykins, 2012), with the more economically advanced countries, like South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, being used as the empirical basis for what some have called "hyper-education" (Dierkes, 2010). [3] 

Despite the reach of private tutoring worldwide and its particular prevalence in Asia, it nevertheless takes different forms depending on context. Bray (2009) conceptualizes private tutoring as an institutionalized fee-based supplementary education that occurs because of a range of issues including high stakes testing, remedial classes, structural issues like overloaded curriculum, and/or intensive social competition. The common metaphor for private tutoring is "shadow education." Yet, in our view, in Cambodia the shadow education metaphor misses the hybridization between public and private schooling. Following the discussion of the larger literature on "shadow education" in the sections below, we elaborate the conceptualization of the hybrid system of education found in Cambodia, focusing on its divergent and convergent points with the "shadow" metaphor.

The "shadow" metaphor

Private tutoring is commonly referred to as "shadow education" because it mimics (or "shadows") mainstream schooling (Stevenson & Baker, 1992; Bray, 1999b; Lee et al., 2009). The study of private tutoring within this conceptualisation is concerned with subjects taught on the national curriculum, not extracurricular activities, like guitar lessons or dance. The analogy to a sundial casting a shadow to tell the passage of time is often used to describe shadows cast by systems of education that tell about the changes in society (Bray, 2007, 2011; Bray & Lykins, 2012). In particular, Bray (2009) explains that the metaphor of the "shadow" is useful for several reasons:

First, private supplementary tutoring only exists because the mainstream education system exists; second, as the size and shape of the mainstream system change, so do the size and shape of supplementary tutoring; third, in almost all societies much more attention focuses on the mainstream than on its shadow; and fourth, the features of the shadow system are much less distinct than those of the mainstream system. (p. 13)

The shadow education metaphor clearly separates mainstream schooling from private tutoring, and focuses on how the two influence, and are influenced by, one another. Evidence of private tutoring around the world suggests that there are multiple factors driving the demand for shadow education. First, the prevalence of high-stake examinations has created a demand for private tutoring among students to better prepare for and successfully pass various examinations necessary to advance to higher levels of schooling. Second, private tutoring occurs when students need extra help in mastering a certain skill or topic that has proven too difficult to understand during mainstream schooling. Third, there are various structural issues that cause private tutoring, such as short school days and low teacher salaries. Impacting all three of these factors is the increased societal pressure put on parents and students to succeed in school. Acting as a non-academic factor leading to private tutoring, peer pressure also exacerbates the demand for extra classes, as parents and students perceive private tutoring as an effective way to earn an advantage in school, sometimes despite any real gains in academic achievement.

High-stakes examinations

Within the "shadow" metaphor, private tutoring is frequently associated with an "enrichment strategy," highlighting its role in preparing students for high-stakes examinations (Baker & LeTendre, 2005: 61). In particular, high-stakes examinations increase student and parental anxieties about retention, enrolment, or graduation. The assumption is that high-stakes examinations serve as "a gate-keeper to education and labor market opportunities" (Baker & LeTendre, 2005: 62) and that student success on high-stakes examinations would lead to better education and employment opportunities in the future. This is why "cram schools" have emerged in many countries to prepare students of various academic abilities (from remedial to high achievers) for high-stakes examinations. For example, Tansel and Bircan (2006) report that highly competitive higher education entrance examinations in Turkey create the demand for private tutoring. Similarly, the secondary school selection process in Japan reportedly produces a strong logic for students to attend juku, an institution offering a variety of private tutoring lessons across all educational levels (Sawada & Kobayashi, 1986; Russell, 2002; Roesgaard, 2006; Dierkes, 2008; Dawson, 2010). Some studies, however, have questioned the link between high-stakes examinations and private tutoring. For example, Aurini and Davis (2004) observed that tutoring businesses are growing substantially in Canada despite the fact that Canadian universities lack university entrance examinations and are not arrayed on a steep prestige hierarchy, as are universities in other countries such as the United States and Japan.

Although Cambodia has what appear to be "high-stakes" examinations in grade 9 and grade 12, [4] the commoditisation of education that has resulted from the neoliberal structural adjustment policies in the 1990s has practically eliminated the high-stakes nature of these examinations. This has occurred because multiple goods and services are sold during the entire examination process, leaving the need to actually study or "cram" for the examination to only students who cannot afford the various fees or students who are ethically opposed to educational corruption. First, examination answers or reference guides ("cheat-sheets") can be purchased from local photocopy stores days or hours before the examination. The various answer or cheat sheets cost different prices depending on their "known" quality (i.e., whether the origin of the answer or reference sheet is known to come from a teacher, a certain location, an administrator, or others). Why would students "cram" for examinations when they can easily purchase answers before the test? Second, during the examination, many services can be purchased from the two proctors (teachers administering the examination) in each classroom or controllers (the teacher overseeing a group of proctors) standing outside. Students can pay proctors to let them use either mini-textbooks purchased at a photocopy centre, answer sheets, or work in groups. Additionally, for a higher price, some proctors or controllers are willing to help students by either filling in a blank examination sheet and passing it along to students, or providing one-on-one help during the examination. Sometimes during the process, students pay proctors, proctors pay controllers, and controllers pay supervisors (teachers in charge of a group of controllers)-all to keep eyes looking elsewhere. [5] In some cases, parents pay a fee to ensure a certain proctor or controller is assigned to their child's class in order for that student to receive help on the more difficult subjects (typically mathematics or chemistry) from a teacher who teaches those subjects. The problems of cheating on national examinations have repeatedly made headlines in the Cambodian news, but the various practices are widely known to continue despite official warnings (see Cheng, 2011; Chhron, 2010; Saoyuth, 2010). As the semblance of any education meritocratic order is all but eliminated by the many fees during the examination process, these tests are "high-stakes" in name only; few if any students feel pressure from the examination beyond not having enough money to ensure a high mark. In fact, students unable to pay the high costs typically drop out far before the national examinations. [6] 

Remedial tutoring

Private tutoring is often thought of as helping some students keep up with the content taught in government school. For example, de Silva (1994) identified several factors that create the demand for remedial tutoring: "student and teacher absence, frequent closure of school, ineffective teaching and negligence on the part of the teacher," as well as "immature, inexperienced or unqualified teachers handling these subjects may not be able to lead the students to a proper understanding of the sections taught" (p. 5). In these circumstances, remedial private tutoring serves to "overcome these gaps or deficiencies in students' learning and build their confidence enabling them to compete with others and experience a happy and pleasant life" (p. 5). In addition to demand for remedial private tutoring by students and parents, some governments have also mandated or encouraged the use of it. The educational system of Bosnia and Herzegovina, for example, provides mandatory supplementary classes for remedial students. Traditionally, if more than 50 percent of the students in a class are having problems mastering the subject matter, the teacher is obliged to organize so-called "remedial classes" in that subject. Remedial classes are held after regular school hours and are an opportunity for the teacher to do additional work with struggling students (Husremovic & Trbic, 2006). Vouchers are another way governments can encourage the use of remedial private tutoring. In Australia, the government uses vouchers to fund students who fall behind to take remedial private tutoring classes (Bishop, 2007).

Remedial private tutoring is also available in Cambodia, but it is only one of the many types of private tutoring (see Table 1). Students who need extra help with various school subjects can purchase additional educational services to fill gaps in their knowledge. However, this is not the main reason for attending private tutoring lessons. Generally, Cambodian students attend private tutoring lessons conducted by their teachers as a continuation of their regular school day, not necessarily for remediation purposes (Brehm & Silova, 2012). If students need remedial tutoring, they would have to take these lessons in addition to "regular" private tutoring (Rien Kuo [7] ). Remedial private tutoring is often referred to as "extra special private tutoring" (Rien Kuo Pises) and is offered by teachers to students in one-on-one or small group lessons. Typically, these remedial classes cost more than Rien Kuo (regular private tutoring), sometimes as high as US$100 monthly for one hour of studying one subject. However, the separation of these two types of private tutoring is not always along remedial lines. Some students attend Rien Kuo when they need extra help on a certain lesson, and some students attend Rien Kuo Pises because it offers a better learning environment than Rien Kuo.

Structural issues

The demand for private tutoring also stems from structural issues, such as an overloaded curriculum, lack of financial resources, or educational corruption. First, overloaded curriculum is often attributed to the growing demand for private tutoring, suggesting that public school teachers may engage in private tutoring after school to teach the material they were unable to cover during school hours. For example, curriculum reforms implemented in many of the post-Soviet republics in the 1990s "stretched the existing curriculum" by introducing new academic subjects (e.g., information and communication technologies, civics, and foreign languages) without substantially changing the inherited Soviet curriculum. In Lithuania, Budiene and Zabulounis (2006: 213) report that the newly introduced student-centred teaching methods consumed more time than the previous teacher-centred approaches. Private tutoring was thus used to meet the demand for more time necessary to complete the required national curriculum, using new teaching/learning methodologies. The association between an overloaded curriculum and private tutoring is also reported in studies of private tutoring in Cyprus, Indonesia, Lebanon, Nigeria, and Russia, (Bray, 2007: 37), as well as Southeast/Central Europe and Central Asia (Silova, 2009; Silova et al., 2006). In Cambodia, students and parents perceive private tutoring as a mechanism enabling teachers to properly teach the subjects included in the national curriculum (Brehm & Silova, 2012). In particular, many parents believe that there is simply not enough time in the school day to cover all curriculum, making specific references to the reduction of the school day following the introduction of double- and triple-shift schooling. Despite the few reported cases of teachers purposefully "slowing down" content delivery to create a market for private tutoring (Bray, 1999a: 55), the perceived lack of time nonetheless leads to a perceived need for more instructional time simply to provide requisite coverage of the national curriculum.

Second, low educational expenditures contribute to the demand for private tutoring. In countries financially unable to adequately support public education, private tutoring emerges as a mechanism to supplement low teacher salaries, provide smaller class sizes, and offer learning materials to students outside the national curriculum (Silova, et al., 2006; Silova, 2009; Bray, 2010; for the Cambodian case see Bray & Bunly, 2005; Silova & Brehm, 2013). For example, Cambodia spends 2.3 percent of GDP on education, placing it among the lowest in the Southeast Asia region and below the world's average of 4.8 percent (European Commission, 2012). Although the budget allocation to the MoEYS recurrent expenditures experienced an increase starting in the 2000s, there has been a steady decrease since 2007 (see Figure 1). According to the European Commission (2012), there was a downward trend in budgeted recurrent expenditures between 2007 (19.2 percent) and 2012 (15.9 percent). [8] Meanwhile, studies have found that households contribute a larger share on the education per child than does the government: whereas the government spends on average US$50 per child per year (Ratcliff, 2009: 11), households spend between US$48 (rural areas) to US$157 (urban areas) per child per year (NEP, 2007: 18). Of household education expenditures, approximately 38 percent goes to education fees, which includes the cost of private tutoring (NEP, 2007).

Figure 1. MoEYS Budgeted and Actual Recurrent Expenditures

Source: Education Sector Working Group, 2006; European Commission, 2012

Third, the lack of educational resources disproportionately impact teacher wages. In Cambodia, there has been a broad consensus among educators, union leaders, administrators, and society in general that teacher salaries are insufficient to cover living expenses (Benveniste et al., 2008). In 2007, for example, a primary teacher's base salary was US$44 per month, which made it difficult (if not impossible) for many teachers to afford the basic necessities of food, housing, and heath care, as well as support any children or elderly family members (Benveniste et al., 2008: 59). [5] To some extent, private tutoring has helped underpaid teachers generate additional income. For example, a common second occupation among Cambodian teachers, especially in urban primary schools, is private tutoring (41.5 percent of urban teachers identified tutoring as out-of-school work; [Benveniste et al., 2008: 69]). Earnings from private tutoring can represent approximately two thirds of the monthly average base salary with basic allowances (Benveniste et al., 2008: 38). Similar to teachers in other geographic areas (such as the Southeast/Central Europe and the former Soviet Union), many Cambodian teachers have adopted the logic of "service provision," using private tutoring as a key income-generation activity (Silova & Bray, 2006).

Fourth, there is delay in the allocation of funds. In Cambodia, both teacher salaries and Programme-Based Budgeting (unallocated money intended for individual schools, which used to be called the Priority Action Programme, or PAP) are routinely distributed late. Teachers have claimed that the distribution of wages is typically delayed (VSO, 2008). For example, salary disbursement in January 2012 had not been allocated to teachers in seven provinces by the end of the month (Denn Ayuthyea, 2012). Anecdotal stories regarding the Programme-Based Budgeting indicate that the money is often disbursed days before the District or Provincial Offices of Education require a report detailing how the money was spent. This typically leads to falsified reports detailing where money was "spent" simply to meet the requirements of the MoEYS. A second issue with delayed funds is the leakage that occurs between the Ministry of Economy and Finance (the ministry responsible for releasing money to the MoEYS) and when it reaches teachers. As money is passed from the Economy and Finance Ministry to the MoEYS, which is then sent to the Provincial and District Offices of Education and then finally received by the schools, money is lost (or "cut" in Khmer) at each stage. One common complaint from teachers is that their salaries are never the correct amount. Combined, low wages-made even lower by leakage-require teachers to hold second jobs, which nearly 70 percent claim to have (Benveniste et al., 2008: 68).

Finally, structural issues that lead to private tutoring by government teachers may result in what many observers consider educational corruption (Chapman, 2002). Educational corruption has been defined as any practice where a teacher uses his or her monopoly of power (assigning grades, granting admission, etc.) over his or her students in a system with little accountability (Bray, 2003). Donations given to teachers by students, for example, have been labelled as a "pernicious practice" (Hallack & Poisson, 2008: 253) because some teachers may reward students who donate and punish those who do not. The practice of teachers holding private tutoring lessons for their own students, however, is more difficult to clearly label educational corruption. For example, Johnson (2011) has provided evidence that Kyrgyzstani "students blame the context, not the culprits [i.e., teachers]" (p. 254) of corruption, because "workers perceived to be contributing to the grater good of society…[are allowed to] deviate from the law" (p. 253). Moreover, Dawson (2009: 71) "problematize[d] the characterization of the practice as 'corruption'" in Cambodia "with consideration toward the grossly inadequate income of state teachers and the problems inherent with curriculum time, content, and teacher pedagogies in the system" by situating the practice of private tutoring within the "wider societal issues."

To summarize, the "shadow education" metaphor assumes that private tutoring can respond to the individual student needs (e.g., keeping up with the required school curricula or improving academic performance on tests) and even systemic educational problems (e.g., overloaded curriculum or low teacher salaries) with the help of the "shadow education" market. For under-achieving students, private tutoring may offer an opportunity for remedial education after school hours. For competitively minded students, private tutoring may assist with more intensive preparation for high-stakes examinations. For underpaid teachers, private tutoring may provide opportunities for supplementary income. And, in the context of an overloaded curriculum, private tutoring may provide a space for educators to teach the material that was not covered at school. On the surface, most of the factors commonly associated with the growing demand for private tutoring are present in the Cambodian context. However, they do not explain the complicated arrangements between the public educational system and private tutoring that emerged in the 1990s (see Brehm & Silova, 2012; Brehm, forthcoming A). As we suggest in this study, private tutoring is not a shadow that is separate from mainstream schooling. As the Cambodian case illustrates, it may be best understood as a key element in a hybrid arrangement between public schooling and private tutoring, which operates as one single system and casts its own shadow.

The "hybrid" metaphor

The metaphor of a "shadow" system of education reaches its conceptual limits in the context of Cambodia. During our research, we have found that the term caused more confusion than clarity among Cambodian academics, teachers, students, parents, and policymakers. The reason being that the term "shadow education" suggests fee-based private tutoring is separate from, although influenced by, mainstream (government) school: no matter how a shadow is distorted by the shape or size of its object, it will never be the object casting the shadow. The assumption is that the shadow and object are fundamentally separate.

In Cambodia, however, it is commonly understood that a child's education requires both government and private tutoring classes. Both are inseparable parts of one system necessary to receive a complete education. As the mainstream schooling increasingly relies on private tutoring to complement what is defined as "education," the shadow and object of schooling have become one. Students typically attend one shift (4 or 5 hours) of government school and then attend another shift of private tutoring classes (1-4 hours, depending on student) each day, sometimes including Sundays, public holidays, and summer vacation. Students who can afford the 300-1000 Riel (US$0.08-0.25) hourly fee for private tutoring return to school (or teacher's home) to have their government schoolteacher offer lessons in what appears to be the same system of education. In both private tutoring and government school classes, moreover, everything is for sale, thus blurring the lines between what is "public" (and free) and "private (and for sale).

This hybrid system does not erase some of the features found in "shadow" education worldwide. Rather, the hybrid system of education that includes both government and private tutoring classes has cast a shadow of its own: some students will attend both government school and private tutoring classes with their government schoolteacher and classmates, and then purchase additional remedial or elective private tutoring in one-on-one or group settings-what is called extra special private tutoring-at a higher cost. There are even companies offering examination preparation courses to students in the capital, Phnom Penh. Thus, the boundaries between the typical conception of "shadow" education and the mainstream system of education, which is being privatized by private tutoring, are increasingly blurred in the Cambodian context.

Public-Private Hybrid Education System

In the Cambodian context, private tutoring is best understood in terms of a public-private hybrid education system where public schooling and private tutoring seamlessly merge, casting its own shadow. This conceptualization implies that private tutoring is a compulsory (private) portion of public education, not a distorted shadow, and thus complements mainstream schooling where it is structurally deficient.

Unlike the metaphor of a "shadow," the concept of a public-private hybrid system suggests that public schooling and private tutoring constitute two parts of one system. This conceptualization moves away from supplementary private tutoring (that is, lessons that are extra to the national curriculum) and towards complementary private tutoring (that is, lessons that are essential to the national curriculum). A public-private hybrid system of education implies that students are required to attend and pay for both public schooling and private tutoring to successfully complete the full national curriculum. The function of complementary private tutoring thus extends far beyond "shadowing" the mainstream system through remedial and/or enrichment education opportunities (although these forms of supplementary private tutoring continue to exist in Cambodia). In the Cambodian context, the main form of complementary private tutoring-what is called Rien Kuo-assumes the functions of the mainstream education system itself by serving as an important mechanism necessary to complete the required national curriculum and increase teacher salaries-both structural failures that have complicated histories through French colonialism, genocide, Soviet support, and liberal internationalism/neoliberalism.

As an integral part of the public-private hybrid education system, private tutoring assumes the same classroom characteristics and pedagogy as mainstream schooling. Not only does private tutoring occur inside government school buildings (and often in the same classrooms where students receive official government school instruction) and is offered by public school teachers (usually by the same teachers students have during regular school hours), but also each class operates and functions in surprisingly similar ways. In particular, the use of teaching aids, group work, exchanging student work, mixing high and low ability students together, and even homework assignments occur in more or less the same manner in government school as private tutoring classes (Brehm & Silova, 2012). In other words, it operates as a seamless system, which only functions effectively when the two parts-public schooling and private tutoring-are offered in tandem. Furthermore, the public-private hybrid education system does not stop functioning when school is officially closed. Instead, education continues in the form of Rien Kuo Pel Vissmakkal (Vacances) or extra study during holidays (vacation), when children attend private tutoring lessons during public holidays and summer breaks to either finish the previous year's curriculum or get a head start on the upcoming year's curriculum. In a way, private tutoring seems to have been systematically integrated in mainstream schooling, forming an institutionalized public-private hybrid educational arrangement.

Table 1. Different Types of Private Tutoring in Cambodia

Public-Private Hybrid Education System

Rien Kuo

Extra study

Some teachers conduct private tutoring lessons to their own students after school hours either in school buildings or in their home. The focus is on covering required school curriculum, which is not taught during school hours. This is the most common form of tutoring and the focus of this study. It is also referred to as Rean Boban Porn (supplemental study) or Rean Chhnuol (study for hire).

Rien Kuo Pel Vissmakkal (Vacances)

Extra study during holidays (vacation)

When students finish school in July or August, they often have the choice of attending private tutoring lessons during the summer break. These classes are either conducted by their pervious grade's teacher to finish the curriculum from that grade or by the next grade's teacher to start the curriculum before the next school year. This gives teachers enough time-either at the beginning or end of the year-to complete the national curriculum.

Shadow Education

Rien Kuo Pises

Extra special study

Government schoolteachers conduct private tutoring lessons one-on-one or for small groups of students, typically from the teachers' government class. These lessons are conducted after school hours either at the teacher's home or a student's home. This type of private tutoring is more expensive than the former, sometimes costing as much as $100 per month for one-on-one tutoring. This type of private tutoring is either used by students for remedial lessons (i.e., shadow education) or for replacing government school altogether. Indeed, we found one case during our data collection where a student came into agreement with his teacher to attend one-on-one Rien Kuo Pises and was not required to attend government school regularly because his teacher would mark him present. This type of Rien Kuo Pises resembles private schooling more closely than shadow or hybrid education.

Sala Akchoan

Private (tutoring) school

There are many types of private schools in Cambodia. From English language based schools to private universities to technology training centres-all of these schools are considered Sala Akchoan (private study). However, there is one type of private study within this category that is part of the shadow education system. In Phnom Penh (and perhaps other urban areas), there are a few test preparation centres that fill classrooms each night as students "cram" for the national examinations and university entrance examinations. The most famous is named Chey Thavy, which was started by a chemistry professor from the Royal University of Phnom Penh. For the grade 12 examinations, many students start preparing in grade 10 or 11. Preparation for the university examinations typically takes place during the four months between the grade 12 examinations (July/August) and when the university examinations are administered.

Rien Kuo Anglais/Barang

English/French extra study

Beginning in lower secondary school, the national curriculum requires students to take foreign language, either English (Anglais) or French (Barang). Despite that these languages are on the curriculum, some students purchase extra classes outside of government school in myriad private educational centres/schools/homes.

This hybrid system of education has also cast its own shadow, reflecting the typical functions of private tutoring found within the "shadow" metaphor (see Table 1). Similar to private tutoring in other geographic contexts, remedial and enrichment tutoring opportunities are available in addition to the traditional Rien Kuo in Cambodia. In particular, students who need extra help understanding various subjects can purchase additional educational services to increase their knowledge. This type of tutoring is less common and is frequently referred to as Rien Kuo Pises or "extra special private tutoring." It is offered in the form of one-on-one tutoring or small group lessons for students who need extra help mastering certain subjects. These classes typically cost more than Rien Kuo, sometimes as high as US$100 per month for a daily class on one school subject. In addition, private tutoring for enrichment purposes is available through private tutoring businesses in Phnom Phen, where students "cram" for high-stakes examinations. In other words, the hybrid system-where public schooling is integrated with private tutoring-casts a shadow that is comprised of various remedial and enrichment tutoring spaces.

Building on the existing research of private tutoring in Cambodia, this study examines the equity issues resulting from a public-private hybrid system of schooling. This research looks at the differences and similarities between private tutoring (Rien Kuo) and government school classes. Data from this research project has also been used in other publications to examine how private tutoring is an extension of government school in terms of pedagogy and curricular content (Brehm & Silova, 2012); the construction of a post-conflict social contract in the 1990s and its impact on the notion of public education (Brehm, forthcoming A); and a historical analysis of compulsory education (Brehm, forthcoming B). A Khmer version of this report (although not a direct translation) is also available (Tuot & Brehm, 2012). This report takes an in-depth look at education inside government schools and private tutoring classrooms, as well as the implications of private tutoring for education quality and equity, thus offering a detailed review of the data collected for this OSI funded research project (Silova & Brehm, 2011).

Research Design and Methods

The research design consisted of three parts, including (1) an examination of the state structures, policies, and local practices that allow for the existence of the private provision of education through private tutoring; (2) the differences in the quality of education provision between public schools and private tutoring; and (3) the equity impacts on education and Cambodian society because of any quality differences and known cost barriers to accessing private tutoring (see Figure 2).

Using participatory research approaches, this study utilized methods commonly used in Participatory Rural Appraisals (PRA). One of the benefits of using PRA methods is that "it provides a vast scope and space for both people as well as outsiders to actively participate at every stage" of the research (Narayanasamy, 2009: 26). By holding focus groups (5-7 people) and conducting one-on-one interviews with many education stakeholders (sample described in detail below), our data involved the participation of many people within both the urban and rural schools under investigation. The semi-structured focus groups provided space for participants to explore issues of quality education and the role private tutoring has on educational equity. We conducted semi-structured interviews as well over the course of the twelve-month data collection period to create mutual understanding and trust between the researchers and respondents in hopes of generating more accurate information on topics that could be sensitive. Additionally, informal interviews helped us by "engaging in real or constructed dialogues in order to understand the people studied in their own terms (sometimes described as the insider's view)" (England cited in Sin, 2010: 986).

Another benefit of using the PRA method is triangulation of information. Our design incorporated not only data triangulation (collecting data from individuals and the interactive level among groups) but also investigator triangulation and methodological triangulation. Some focus groups were conducted by a team of two researchers who then worked through their findings collectively. Moreover, these data points were compared with data points obtained using different methods, namely, classroom observations and the analysis of academic achievement (monthly grades and attendance) for students who were attending private tutoring lessons and those who are not. Additionally, we built off historical analyses and updated document analyses of government policies in previous research to the present. The methods used in each school are described below and the instruments used to collect the data can be found in the appendix.

Figure 2. Research Design and Methods

This study is based on data collected between January and December 2011. The sample included six schools in one district in Cambodia, including three schools in an urban location and three schools in a rural location. [6] The district is economically and geographically diverse, offering insight into various areas throughout Cambodia. The sample was deliberately chosen to reflect a range of private tutoring costs in different schools depending on their geographic (urban or rural) location. After collecting preliminary data on the cost for one session of private tutoring within all lower secondary schools (13) in the district, we selected one lower secondary school with the highest private tutoring costs (1,000 Riel, or approximately US$0.25, per session) and one with lowest (500 Riel, or approximately US$0.13, per session), which also corresponded to urban and rural areas respectively. We then worked backwards to find two primary schools that fed into each lower secondary school. The final schools selected were chosen by their willingness to participate in the study.

Observations

A total of 28 observations were conducted, including 14 observations of public school classes and 14 observations of private tutoring lessons (see Table 2). However, these observations did not include private tutoring lessons in rural primary schools, because no such lessons were held during the four months of data collection. Observation rubrics were developed using instruments from a World Bank commissioned report on Cambodia (Benveniste et al., 2008) that focused on teaching methodology, classroom characteristics, and class time use. The questions within each of these categories were then compiled into an observation checklist adapted for the last year of primary and secondary school (grades 6 and 9 respectively), and used for observations of teaching/learning processes in both public school classes and private tutoring lessons. [7] 

Table 2. Number of Observations by Subject and Grade

Grade

Subject

Number of Observations

Government Class

Private Tutoring

Total

Grade 6

Khmer

7

2

9

Matematics

1

1

2

Grade 9

Khmer

3

2

5

Mathematics

1

2

3

Physics

2

3

5

Chemistry

0

4

4

Total

14

14

28

Tracking student attendance and achievement

Data on academic achievement and attendance came from tracking 444 students (see Table 3), including 162 students in primary school (grade 6) and 282 students in secondary school (grade 9). The students tracked in grade 9 came from six classes [9] across four subjects: mathematics, Khmer language, chemistry, and physics. Although we were able to track the same classes in the rural school across all subjects, a different group of classes was tracked in each of the subjects in the urban secondary school. Therefore, although 282 students in grade 9 were tracked, the number of unique students in each subject varies depending on which group of classes was tracked in the urban grade 9: 171 students in mathematics, 208 students in chemistry, and 203 students in Khmer language. [10] At the primary level, one class of students was tracked in each school.

Table 3. Tracking of Student Attendance and Achievement (Sample)

Experience with Private Tutoring

Location

Total

Rural

Urban

Primary

Private Tutoring

24

43

67

No Private Tutoring

67

28

95

Total Number of Tracked Students at the Primary Level

162

Lower Secondary

Private Tutoring

75

118

193

No Private Tutoring

38

51

89

Total Number of Tracked Students at the Secondary Level

282

Total Number of Tracked Students

444

Student attendance of private tutoring lessons was tracked using a private tutoring attendance sheet specifically designed for this study. While most participants used the attendance sheet, student attendance in private tutoring within some urban grade 9 and all rural grade 6 classes was provided by either the recollections of the teacher, the total money collected from students by the teacher, or an attendance sheet. These tracking systems were discussed individually with each teacher by going through the attendance list from school and having the teacher identify either how much money each student provided for private tutoring (a record kept by some teachers) or by indicating their perceptions of how often a student attended private tutoring (either by memory or an attendance sheet designed by the teacher). This allowed us to identify which students attended at least one private tutoring lesson during our data collection period. The principal of each school provided government attendance and monthly grade sheets. Data presented here covers attendance and monthly grades for one month, [11] allowing for a comparison of academic achievement and private tutoring attendance among students who attend private tutoring and those who do not.

The academic scores for grade 9 focused on the subjects of mathematics, Khmer language, and chemistry. For grade 6, we focused on a combination of mathematics and Khmer language (Khmer dictation, Khmer writing, and Khmer reading). Although the sample is small, covers a short time, and does not take into consideration external factors affecting student achievement (parental education, past educational experience of the student, provision of tutoring other than that provided by the teacher, etc.), our purpose here was not to determine causation between private tutoring and student achievement, but rather to highlight a disparity between students who go and do not go to private tutoring as one factor that divides students and contributes to inequality.

Focus groups and interviews

Focus groups and interviews were conducted with students, parents, and teachers. Participants were selected by consulting the principal or teacher of each school or class, who then helped arrange interviews and focus groups with community members and students. Although the principal or teacher could have purposefully selected or prepared participants, this strategy was the only politically feasible option given government restrictions. Notwithstanding these limitations, we did find all participants willing to talk openly about private tutoring and its exclusionary features. Overall, 21 focus groups were conducted, which included a total of 118 participants (see Table 4). Focus groups were split by stakeholder groups (students, teachers, and parents) and then by their participation in private tutoring lessons. The goal of separating the stakeholders was to increase the comfort level among individuals in each focus group in order to explore their experiences with private tutoring. The focus groups also discussed perceptions of the impact of tutoring on education quality and equity. In addition, informal interviews were conducted with 21 participants, including teachers, students, parents, and principals from other schools. These informal interviews focused on the experiences of individuals with private tutoring, helping us to interpret some of the findings from the observations and focus groups.

Table 4. Number of Focus Groups (and Participants) in Rural and Urban Areas

Stakeholders

Primary

Lower Secondary

Combined

Grade Levels

Total

Rural

Urban

Rural

Urban

Rural

Urban

Teachers (total)

6 (28)

Private tutoring

1(3)

1(3)

1(8)

3(14)

Non-private tutoring

2(7)

1(5)

3(12)

Students (total)

11 (69)

Private tutoring

2(14)

2(12)

1(7)

1(5)

6(38)

Non-private tutoring

2(12)

2(12)

1(7)

5(31)

Parents (total)

4 (23)

Private tutoring

1(5)

1(4)

2(9)

Non-private tutoring

1(5)

1(9)

2(14)

Total

21(118)

Note: The numbers in parenthesis are the total number of participants within each category.

Document analysis

Document analysis included a review of government policies and laws related to education funding and teacher salaries. In addition, we analyzed various reports on education quality and equity in Cambodia published by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international agencies (such as the World Bank, UNICEF, and UNESCO). Combined, data gained through document analysis, classroom observations, academic achievement and attendance, as well as focus groups and interviews were triangulated to facilitate validation of data through cross verification from multiple sources and data collection techniques. See Table 5 for an overview of the research methods.

Table 5. Overview of Research Methods

Observations

A total of 28 observations were conducted, including 14 observations of public school classes and 14 observations of private tutoring lessons. In primary schools, observations were conducted in mathematics and Khmer language classes. In lower secondary schools, observations were conducted in Khmer language, mathematics, physics, and chemistry. The same observation procedure was held for private tutoring lessons conducted by each teacher.

How does the teacher teach during mainstream education (teaching methods and curriculum content)?

Does the teacher favour certain students? Who are they?

What are the teaching methods and content in private tutoring?

How are the two teaching styles different?

Tracking of Student Attendance and Achievement

Data on academic achievement and attendance came from tracking 444 students, including 162 students in primary schools (grade 6) and 282 students in secondary schools (grade 9). The goal was to examine whether (and how) private tutoring impacts students academic achievement in different subjects.

What are the differences in students' academic achievement for those who do and do no attend private tutoring?

Focus Groups and Interviews

Focus groups with students, parents, and teachers were held over the course of data collection to examine their experiences with private tutoring and their perception about the impact of private tutoring on education access and quality. A total of 21 focus groups were conducted. In addition, A total of 21 informal interviews were conducted with parents, teachers, and students throughout the data collection period.

What are the main reasons children attend private tutoring?

Which subjects are most popular? How much does it cost?

What are the difference in teaching between private tutoring and government school?

How does private tutoring impact you, your family, and your village?

Document Analysis

Government policies and laws related to education, 1992-present. Focus on government funding of education and teacher salaries.

What are the system-driven factors (national policies and laws) contributing to the rise of private tutoring?

The Nature, Impact, and Implications of Rien Kuo:

Findings

Focusing on the scope, nature, and implications of Rien Kuo, the findings of the study are organized around the following three main categories: (1) curriculum differences between Rien Kuo and mainstream schooling, (2) achievement differences among students attending private tutoring and those who do not, and (3) societal affects of private tutoring. Before exploring each of these themes in more depth, it is important to provide a few descriptive statistics on the intensity and form of private tutoring within our sample.

General characteristics of Rien Kuo

Of the 282 students tracked in grade 9, 193 students (68.4 percent) attended at least one private tutoring class during the time of the data collection. At the primary school level, the scope of private tutoring was lower, with 41.3 percent of all surveyed students (67 out of 162) attending private tutoring. The intensity of private tutoring varied by subject in grade 9, with 57 percent of surveyed students attending private tutoring in mathematics, 54 percent in Khmer language, and 37 percent in chemistry (see Table 6). Comparing the intensity among subjects, a similar percentage of students attended private tutoring lessons in Khmer language and mathematics, but a smaller percentage of students attended chemistry lessons. One explanation for the difference in frequency between Khmer language and mathematics with chemistry is the way in which grades are calculated. Each month teachers administer their own subject examinations to their classes. These examinations are neither standardized in terms of content nor monitored in terms of grading rubrics. The scores across all subjects are then added for each student and divided by the total number of possible points, which varies by month depending on the subjects covered. Average subject and overall grades are reported monthly on student score sheets, indicating the ranking of the student among his or her classmates. Across all levels of schooling, the subjects of Khmer language and mathematics account for 100 points (sometimes more [12] ) while the other subjects only account for 50 points on monthly score sheets. This means scoring higher in Khmer language or mathematics will have a greater positive impact on students overall grade each month than doing well on subjects like chemistry, which only account for 50 points. [13] 

A further analysis of data by geographic location (rural versus urban) reveals a higher intensity of private tutoring use in urban areas compared to rural areas. In primary schools, for example, 60.5 percent of urban students attended private tutoring classes compared to 26.4 percent of students in rural areas. The one exception within our data set is for Khmer language private tutoring in grade 9 where more rural students attended private tutoring than urban students. This divergent finding can be explained in two ways. First, it can be partially attributed to parental choice. If parents can only afford private tutoring in one subject, Khmer language was perceived as most valuable because of the grading policies described above and the general perception that literacy is a necessary life skill. Second, within the rural classes tracked, 19 students who attended private tutoring were supported (i.e., provided money to attend private tutoring) by an NGO. Without financial support to pay the private tutoring fees, these 19 students would most likely not have attended the extra courses in any subject. Controlling for these students, we find that only 39 percent of students attend Khmer language private tutoring in the rural school compared to 52 percent in the urban school. This is in agreement with the general finding of a higher intensity of private tutoring within urban schools.

There were also noticeable differences between government school and private tutoring class sizes. Since Rien Kuo is rarely offered in a one-on-one setting and is instead taught to larger groups of students, it closely resembles classes in mainstream schools. Nevertheless, Rien Kuo class sizes are generally smaller than those in mainstream schools. [14] Based on our observations and attendance tracking, the average class size of government school in grade 9 (both urban and rural) was 42 students. By contrast, private tutoring classes were, on average, 21 students. Breaking these data down by location, we find that the average class size in government school is 56 students in the urban lower secondary school and 35 students in the rural lower secondary school. By contrast, private tutoring classes were on average 37 students and 17 students in urban and rural schools, respectively. This suggests that private tutoring classes are (1) smaller than government school regardless the location, and (2) urban areas have larger class sizes in both government school classes and private tutoring lessons compared to rural areas.

Table 6. Intensity of Private Tutoring by Subject, Grade 9

Students in government class

Students in private tutoring

% of students in private tutoring

Mathematics

Urban

58

35

60.34

Rural

113

63

55.75

Total

171

98

57.31

Chemistry

Urban

95

58

61.05

Rural

113

19

16.81

Total

208

77

37.02

Khmer Language

Urban

90

47

52.22

Rural

113

64

56.64

Total

203

111

54.68

Curriculum differences

Given that Rien Kuo generally takes place on school grounds, usually in the same classrooms where government school classes are held, there are some interesting continuities between Rien Kuo and mainstream schooling. Data collected from classroom observations and triangulated with interviews and focus groups suggest that private tutoring is in many respects a continuation of government school in terms of teaching methodology and curriculum content (see Table 7). For example, teachers appear to assign homework (43 percent of private tutoring classes observed and 64 in government classes) and even present new material in private tutoring lessons (36 percent of the private tutoring classes and 79 percent of government classes). Likewise, students appear to be involved in similar activities in both government classes and private tutoring lessons, including answering multiple choice questions (14 percent) and responding to teachers give example to whole class (78 percent).

Table 7. Similarities between Government School and Private Tutoring Classes

Teacher Pedagogy

Government School

N=14

% of classes observed (number of classes observed)

Private Tutoring

N=14

% of classes observed (number of classes observed)

High ability students work with low ability students

28.6 (4)

14.3 (2)

High ability students help teach whole class

71.4 (10)

50.0 (7)

Call on weak students to answer questions

50.0 (7)

42.9 (6)

Students answer multiple choice questions

14.3 (2)

14.3 (2)

Students answer questions at board

100.0 (14)

71.4 (10)

Teacher assigns homework

64.3 (9)

42.9 (6)

Teacher presents new material

78.6 (11)

35.7 (5)

Teacher provides whole class instruction

100.0 (14)

85.7 (12)

Students answer in chorus

71.4 (10)

64.3 (9)

Teacher gives example to whole class

78.6 (11)

78.6 (11)

The focus groups with teachers provided in-depth qualitative information to compliment the observations regarding teaching methodology and the curriculum used in government school classes and private tutoring lessons. The first theme that emerged in the focus groups was the overwhelming opinion that the national curriculum is too long to complete during government school hours. Some teachers said they had to "rush" through the curriculum to finish on time and feared being held accountable for not finishing. For example, one teacher who conducts private tutoring explained:

We rush to keep up with the curriculum. [During official school hours], we teach only theory and give only a few examples. If students go to private tutoring, they can practice [at the board] because there are fewer students who go…We cannot get all students to practice [at the board] in government class. It requires a lot of time.

The "rush" to finish the curriculum is a result of a curriculum too "full" to complete during the allotted time. One history teacher who sends his children to private tutoring explained: "[The ministry] allows little time [to teach]. I teach based on the [allowed] time. If the curriculum is not finished, [then] I let it go because there is not enough time. [Although] I try my best, it is still impossible [to teach everything]." The majority of teachers agreed that the curriculum time provided by the MoEYS was not sufficient for students to practice the theory they learned during school hours and that they conducted private tutoring to provide more practice time for students to complement the knowledge gained. In other words, private tutoring provided the necessary time to finish the curriculum to a perceived higher standard. As one teacher who does not conduct private tutoring explained, "Private tutoring teachers take the lessons learned in the government class and provide more practice in private tutoring. They even add more [material excluded in the government class]."

From teachers' perspectives, quality education could not be achieved during regular school hours. One of the most frequently mentioned examples centred on the role of problem-solving exercises (or activities) in the government curriculum. In the effort to finish the curric

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