07 SES 12 B, Inclusion at Risk
Academically selective schools in Europe and beyond are often criticised by scholars who stress the divisive nature of these schools and the likely negative impact of their existence on educational outcomes for disadvantaged students (see e.g. West and Nikolai, 2013; Dupriez and Dumay, 2006). One compounding issue is the role that selective schooling practices may have in sustaining oreven increasing families’ already growing spending on private tutoring, with potentially yet further implications for social justice. Bray and Kwo (2013) argue that private tutoring is a phenomenon across the world about which governments ‘prefer not to know too much’, topping up public spending on education as it does while also contributing to changing norms regarding who ought to pay for education.
Prompted by recent government plans in England to expand selective schooling (DfE, 2017), this paper asks: has such schooling ever fuelled families’ engagements with private tutoring elsewhere in the world? The paper reports on a study which sought to explore factors historically driving private tutoring expenditures in the ‘extreme case’ (Gerring, 2001) of South Korea – a country with some of the highest private tutoring spending in the world (2.9% of GDP – see Ku et al, 2016).
The paper draws on data from semi-structured interviews with 29 experts and key stakeholders in the South Korean education system – former education ministers, current government policy advisers and researchers, National Assembly politicians, local government officials, teacher trade union representatives, education NGO activists and education scholars. Government documents plus documents from other key organisations in Korea were also gathered and analysed.
South Korea is a country with not only very high levels of private spending on ‘shadow education’ but also a long history of selective schooling (KEDI, 2011; Oh, 2011; Lee and Kim, 2016). Interviewees for this project were in some respects critical of a 1970s ‘equalisation’ of schooling in Korea which abolished middle and high school entrance exams. At the same time, however, interviewees were also strongly critical of unequalising moves in Korea from the 1980s onwards back towards greater academic selection, which were viewed as being instrumental in driving dramatic increases in families’ private tutoring expenditures over the course of the 1990s and 2000s. Concern about social justice implications relating to this issue has driven governments to try and curb schools’ selective powers for a second time in Korean history. Although East Asian education systems do differ from those in Europe in many respects, they are often treated as ‘reference points’ (Sellar and Lingard, 2013; Waldow et al, 2014) and there are good reasons to hypothesise on the basis of Korean experience that, for example, proposed expansions of selective schooling in England may contribute to an expanded private tutoring industry.
Bray, M. and Kwo, O. (2013), ‘Behind the façade of fee-free education: shadow education and its implications for social justice’, Oxford Review of Education, 39: 4, 480-497. DfE (2017), Why I’m Giving Education a Huge Boost, London: DfE. Dupriez, V. and Dumay, X. (2006), ‘Inequalities in school systems: effect of school structure or of society structure?’, Comparative Education, 42: 2, 243-260. Gerring, J. (2008), ‘Case selection for case-study analysis: qualitative and quantitative techniques’ in Box-Steffensmeier, J., Brady, H., Collier, D. (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Korean Educational Development Institute (2011), Brief Understanding of Korean Educational Policy, Seoul: KEDI. Ku, I., Kim, J. and Lee, H. (2016), Consequences of Private Tutoring for Educational Attainment: The Case of South Korea. Paper presented at 3rd ISA Forum of Sociology, Vienna, 14 July. Lee, C.J. and Kim, Y. (2016), ‘Reflection on the education policy orientation in post-May 31 reform in Korea’, Asia Pacific Education Review, online. Oh, J. (2011), ‘High school diversification against educational equality: a critical analysis of neoliberal education reform in South Korea’, Asia Pacific Education Review, 12, 381-391. Sellar, S. and Lingard, B. (2013), ‘Looking East: Shanghai, PISA 2009 and the reconstitution of reference societies in the global education policy field’, Comparative Education, 49: 4, 464-485. Waldow, F., Takayama, K. and Sung, Y-K. (2014), ‘: media discourses over the ‘Asian Tigers’’ PISA success in Australia, Germany and South Korea’, Comparative Education, 50: 3, 302-321. West, A. and Nikolai, R. (2013), ‘Welfare regimes and education regimes: Equality of opportunity and expenditure in the EU (and US)’, Journal of Social Policy, 42: 3, 469-493.
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