Lessons from South Korea
“Private coaching has no borders as it prevails from the least income countries such as Cambodia and Kenya to the highest income countries such as Japan, Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan,” says Bray, who is the Unesco chair in Comparative Education at the University of Hong Kong.
But it is in South Korea where about two trillion shillings shadow education industry has raised its ugly head and has also defied the Government’s efforts to bring it under control because of parent’s willingness to invest in education of their children.
To reduce the addiction to private coaching, South Korea has embarked on a curfew that includes huge payments to informers to turn in violators. So far, it is not very clear whether Mutula will urge the Government to employ platoons of investigators of after- school-hours-academies or to increase more teachers.
Nevertheless, he might decide to talk to his counterpart from Mauritius where the Government recently amended Education Act to extend ban on private tuition to pupils in lower primary. However, should Mutula decide to go towards this direction, the Government should be prepared to be sued by parents who might claim their children have been denied rights to education.
For Mauritius, the Government, early this year, introduced an enhanced remedial education programme as an alternative to private coaching in lower primary to avoid litigation.
No matter which direction the Government takes, shadow education system is deeply rooted in the country. The Unesco-backed Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Education Quality, a partnership of 15 ministries of education, says about 90 per cent of pupils in Kenya’s primary schools receive extra coaching.
“Such is also the case in Uganda, Seychelles and South Africa,” says Bray.
Parents in Kenya pay for extra coaching to raise test scores in public exams that are purely used as selection tools for higher education. So long as performance in public exams remains cornerstone to academic success, putting one firmly on the road to social mobility, parents will continue being drivers of academic intensity and extreme competition in schools in the country.
Even whereas the ministry might claim to have powers and competence to determine the dimensions of coverage of curriculum content, its authority is grossly undermined by the poor performance of public primary schools in KCPE. More so since launching of the free primary education, the ministry has failed to restore confidence in the public primary education system beyond enforcing free learning environment in the schools.