Private tutoring in Asia

Illuminating the shadow

Authored by: Maria Manzon

Routledge International Handbook of Schools and Schooling in Asia

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138908499
eBook ISBN: 9781315694382
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315694382-29

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Abstract

The phenomenon of private tutoring is like a virus. Viruses attack vulnerable victims with weak immune systems. No matter how much medical research tries to invent new vaccinations to protect public health, viruses mutate and new strains come into being. They also cause mutations in the human genome. In like manner, private tutoring preys on the vulnerabilities of the education system. Gaps in education quality – real or imagined – as well as the inherent desire to have more of scarce resources – again real or imagined – be they career opportunities, social standing and even teachers’ salaries, drive the demand and supply of private tutoring. Despite the regulatory efforts of governments, private tutoring practices mutate and sometimes become more virulent and resistant to measures to contain them. Moreover, they trigger changes in the education system itself, be they in teaching quality, student fatigue or teacher corruption, as well as the inordinate pursuit of academic success, among others. Just as a viral infection drains the physical energy and stamina of its victims, the “business” of private tutoring drains the physical and psychological reserves of students as well as puts to waste financial resources of families and of the government’s investments in public schools. Viruses can also spread like an epidemic, leaving chronic disabilities and dependencies in their hosts. Despite the limitations of the virus metaphor – giving a rather negative connotation to private tutoring – it helps to illustrate some of the dynamics of the phenomenon.

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