ERG SES H 05, Society and Education
More and more governments use educational reforms as a tool to raise the competitiveness of their societies, and one shared feature of some of these reforms is privatization of public education. Countries in the Eastern and Western Europe alike, for instance, have implemented various educational reforms that allowed for, or promoted, privatization of education (Ball & Youdell, 2008; Patrinos, Barrera-Osorio, & Guàqueta, 2009). While privatization of education has received much academic attention, the new education privatization, in which the government financially supports the private sector’s participation in public education, has remained unexplored in many contexts (Burch, 2009), in particular in the East Asian context including South Korea and Hong Kong. Governments of South Korea and Hong Kong have circulated policy discourses which reconceptualise the private sector as a partner in public education for more than a decade. However, there has been little documentation of the actual practice of outsourcing of education delivery.
This paper, drawing on three consecutive research projects funded by a tertiary institute in Hong Kong, aims to contribute to understanding this largely “hidden” phenomenon of educational privatization (Ball, Thrupp, & Forsey, 2010) focusing on government-funded outsourcing of core curriculum delivery. Understanding the focal phenomenon is necessary considering the public accountability in using public fund. It may concern, however, far more important issues of quality and equity of public education. Previous research on the quality of outsourced education is controversial (Green, 2005); some programmes have found to reproduce or even aggravate the gap between the haves and the have-nots in terms of access to quality education (Burch, 2009).
By mapping out the policy and practice at the government and school levels in South Korea and Hong Kong, this paper aims to explore the degree to which privatization of education is happening in the two contexts and whether there are reasons to pay attention to the previously identified issues of quality and equity regarding outsourced education in the case contexts. In addition, comparing the findings with those from the‘Western’ contexts, factors which shape the local practice of state-funded outsourcing, and its quality and equity will be explored.
Adopting a multi-level comparative analysis (Manzon, 2014) and informed by policy enactment theory which identifies the significant roles played by policy characteristics, contexts, and policy actors’ beliefs in shaping policy implementation(Ball, Maguire, & Braun, 2012), the paper reports investigation conducted at two levels, that is, the government and schools, and will look into the roles played by the characteristics of policies and related legislations, beliefs of decision makers (head teachers in this paper) and contextual features (e.g., resources, local curriculum).
Ball, S. J., Maguire, M., & Braun, A. (2012). How schools do policy: Policy enactments in secondary schools. London and New York: Routledge. Ball, S. J., Thrupp, M., & Forsey, M. (2010). Hidden markets: The new educational privatization. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 31(2), 229-241. doi:10.1080/01425690903541228 Ball, S. J., & Youdell, D. (2008). Hidden privatisation in public education. Retrieved from London: Bogdan, R. C., & Biklen, S. K. (2007). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theories and methods. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. Burch, P. (2009). Hidden markets: the new education privatization. New York, NY: Routledge. Choi, T.-H. (2015). The impact of the “Teaching English through English” policy on teachers and teaching in South Korea. Current Issues in Language Planning, 16(3), 201-220. Choi, T.-H. (2015, February). The new education privatization in Hong Kong: Underlying concerns of educational quality and equity. Paper presented at the Comparative Education Society of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China. Green, C. (2005). The privatization of state education: Public partners, private dealings. Oxon, UK: Routledge. Manzon, M. (2014). Comparing places. In M. Bray, B. Adamson, & M. Mason (Eds.), Comparative education research: Approaches and methods (pp. 97-137). Hong Kong: Springer. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Patrinos, H. A., Barrera-Osorio, F., & Guàqueta, J. (2009). The role and impact of public-private partnerships in education. Washington: The Wrold Bank.
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