Document: The Public-Private Education System in Cambodia: The Impact and Implications of Complementary Tutoring

William C. Brehm, Iveta Silova and Tuot Mono
Publication Date:
Fri, 26/10/2012 - 10:13
File Size:
1.62 MB


Private tutoring is typically conceptualized as an institutionalized fee-based supplementary education that occurs because of high stakes testing, remedial classes, structural issues like overloaded curriculum, and intensive social competition. The common metaphor for private tutoring is “shadow education,” implying a separation between public schooling and private tutoring. While most of the factors are present in the Cambodian context, they nevertheless fail to explain the complicated arrangements between the public educational system and private tutoring that emerged in the 1990s. This report argues that in Cambodia the main form of private tutoring is not a shadow separate from mainstream schooling. Rather, it may be best understood as a key element in a hybrid arrangement between public schooling and complementary private tutoring, which operates as one single system and casts its own shadow.

This report directly addresses some of the quality and equity implications of private tutoring in the broader context of the privatisation of public education in Cambodia. Building on extensive qualitative and quantitative data collected in Cambodia in 2011, this report reveals inequities resulting from a public-private hybrid system of schooling. This report also highlights the differences and similarities between private tutoring (Rien Kuo) and government school classes. Focusing on the scope, nature, and implications of Rien Kuo, the findings 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 effects of private tutoring.

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