23 SES 13 D, Policy Lessons for Europe
In this era when education is governed by the logic of markets on a global scale (Apple, 2011), concerns have been raised regarding whether schools, as institutes that can considerably affect the life chances of students, have proved to be inclusive enough for students who can be potentially marginalised. The public education system perhaps has relatively more potential to provide such students with equitable educational opportunities than a system which is completely subject to the market logic such as private tutorial institutes, although currently the concept of publicness is becoming blurred. The blurriness of the division between the public and the private in education partly started with some governments’ resorting to the privatisation of education since the 1980s, in the hope to raise the quality and efficiency of educational provision (Levin, 2001). Hong Kong joined this global trend with a series of initiatives including the school-based management (SBM) policy of 1991 (Chan & Mok, 2001).
Of the various strategies of the privatisation of education, one popular strategy the Hong Kong government uses, though largely hidden from the awareness of the public and scholars, is to provide funds to schools, which allow for the outsourcing of curriculum delivery to third parties (Choi, 2015). When initiating a new reform, for instance, the government sets aside and provides funds to all schools per capita or to the applying schools, so as to use in implementing the reform, in addition to the annual budget which schools have full autonomy on its deployment. The foundation for this type of privatisation for Hong Kong schools was made with the introduction of SBM - SBM ensured schools’ “autonomy” and “freedom” in financial and human resources matters (Advisory Committee on School-Based Management, 2000).
Such privatisation in public schools using government funds to purchase educational services may partly solve the problem arising from strategies reflecting the user-pay principle, that is, inequitable access to educational opportunities across haves and non-haves, but has proved to create its own equity issues in some societies (e.g., Burch, 2009; Hogan, Thompson, Sellar, & Lingard, 2017). The government-funded educational outsourcing is practiced in most schools in Hong Kong (Choi, 2017), whether in the form of private educational companies providing classes within regular school hours, individuals being dispatched from private companies to contribute to the delivery of the national curriculum, or others. However, the equity implications of the practice is not given due attention except for the author’s own studies (e.g., Choi, 2015, 2017). These studies, insightful as they are, provide only a partial picture, as they are mainly drawing on document-based research of grant reports, though of a large scale. This follow-up survey research involving 15% of Hong Kong local secondary schools and case studies with four schools, will provide a fuller understanding of the phenomenon, as experienced and perceived by teachers and school leaders.
The central concept of equity in this study which is concerned with the life chance of potentially disadvantaged students in a highly meritocratic society, is conceptualised drawing on Rawls’ (1971/1999) notion of fair equality of opportunity, i.e., providing equal chance to students regardless of their background, if with equal ability and willingness to learn. In analysing the practice of outsourcing, this was understood to implicate providing extra support according to students’ needs with ‘unequal’ distribution of resources and support, to ensure their threshold performance (Bastian, Fruchter, Gittel, Greer, & Haskins, 1986).
To investigate the equity implications of the educational outsourcing in Hong Kong, a mixed method approach was adopted. The data, collected through three main projects funded by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council and the author’s institute respectively, includes policy documents; a survey; and a case study at four schools of different socio-economic profiles. This presentation mainly draws on the survey, however, insights from the document research involving a third of Hong Kong secondary schools (Choi, forthcoming) and other data will also be used for triangulation purposes, and to understand the background. When analysing the survey data, for categorical data, only descriptive statistics were used, and for other types of data, further statistical analysis was conducted to identify the patterns in outsourcing practice, factors shaping them, and implications for educational equity. For qualitative data, thematic content analysis (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007; Duff, 2008) and multi-level comparative analysis (Manzon, 2014) were adopted. The equity of education was operationalised as perceived and reported equity, and the framework suggested by Ainscow, Dyson, Goldrick and West (2012) was used in the design of the study and data analysis. Their framework suggests to look into three inter-related aspects, that is, representation of the marginalised groups of students, opportunities for those students and their parents to voice out their opinions, and the issue of identity of those students. The paper starts with a brief introduction of the practice of government-funded educational outsourcing in public secondary schools, including the scope and range of the educational outsourcing activities across all subjects, drawing on the survey involving more than 200 teachers from 67 schools. It then focuses down to discuss its implications for the educational equity of secondary education, focusing on students who can be potentially marginalised, such as students with a minority standing or a low socio-economic status, to list but two, drawing on the same sets of data. Findings from the case study were also used to seek contextualised understanding of the phenomenon and factors shaping them.
Analysis of equity adopting Ainscow et al.’s framework (2012) shows that the schools are doing their utmost to ensure equity in terms of representation of the potentially marginalised students as the beneficiary of the outsourced programmes. However, the other two aspects can further be worked on. Schools can increase their efforts to reflect voices of these students and their parents, in understanding their needs, rather than relying heavily on staff’s views; further works are needed on actively boosting the beneficiary students’ self-respect, in addition to instituting the rather passive, administrative procedure to minimise the stigmatisation (e.g., schools providing the financial support to parents through the administration office, leaving the beneficiary unknown to teachers). It is noteworthy that schools' decision-making in addressing the needs of potentially marginalised students interact with school's academic prestige and the socio-economic status of the communities they serve. Further research which identifies the reasons behind will be able to provide deeper insights into educational equity around educational outsourcing. Also, findings from the document research shows that schools’ efforts to ensure educational equity may require further support in terms of ensuring equity in terms of learning outcomes rather than access (Choi, forthcoming). This study which documents the outsourcing of education in public schools in Hong Kong, and their implications on educational equity, makes a vital contribution to research on equity implications of privatisation, in the new public education system where private parties officially constituting its part, as is the case in increasingly more societies. The practical suggestions to be drawn out for the government and the schools will contribute to ensuring the equity of ‘public’ education in any societies witnessing the blurring division between the public and the private.
Advisory Committee on School-based Management. (2000). Transforming schools into dynamic and accountable professional learning communities. Hong Kong: Advisory Committee on School-based Management. Ainscow, M., Dyson, A., Goldrick, S., & West, M. (2012). Developing equitable education systems. London: Routledge. Apple, M. W. (2011) Democratic education in neoliberal and neoconservative times. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 21(1), 21-31. Bastian, A., Fruchter, N., Gittell, M., Greer., & Haskins, K. (1986). Choosing equality: The case for democratic schooling. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 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. Chan, D., & Mok, K.-H. (2001). Educational reforms and coping strategies under the tidal wave of marketisation: A comparative study of Hong Kong and the mainland. Comparative Education, 37(1), 21-41. Choi, T.-H. (2015, February). The new education privatization in Hong Kong: Underlying concerns of educational quality and equity. Paper presented at Comparative Education Society of Hong Kong (CESHK) Conference, Hong Kong. Choi, T.-H. (2016, April). Learning to live together: Working together with the private sector for better student learning: Cases from Hong Kong and South Korea. Paper presented at CESHK Conference, Hong Kong. Choi, T-H. (2017, August). Mapping the outsourcing of English language education in Hong Kong: What education for whom? In Bates, A. (Chair). Standardizing education policy and practice in the global age: cases from England, China and South Korea. Symposium conducted at the European Conference of Educational Research, Copenhagen, Denmark. Choi, T.-H. (forthcoming). English education in partnership with third parties: A case of equity in Hong Kong. In S.-O. Kweon (Ed.), The Asian EFL classroom: Issues, challenges and future expectations (pp. xx-xx). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Duff, P. (2008). Case study research in applied linguistics. NY: Lawrence Erlbaum. Efficiency Unit. (2009). Joined-up government. Hong Kong: Efficiency Unit. Hogan, A., Thompson, G. Sellar, S., & Lingard, B. (2017). Teachers’ and school leaders’ perceptions of commercialisation in Australian public schools. The Australian Educational Researcher, 45(2) 141–160. Levin, B. (2001). Reforming education: From origins to outcomes. London: 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. Rawl, J. (1971/1999). A theory of justice, revised edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; Oxford: Oxford University Press.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.