(B) Research on Privatization, Choice and Reform in Basic Education

(B) Research on Privatization, Choice and Reform in Basic Education


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Tsang, M.

School choice in the People's Republic of China (in English)  [In Plank, D. & Sykes, G. (2003), Choosing Choice . NY: Teachers College Press.]

This is a paper on the recent development in parental choice in basic education in the People's Republic of China (China). It has two major objectives. First, it attempts to explain the origin and inherent tension in school choice by relating the recent development to historical changes and the larger societal contexts in post-1949 China. Second, based on studies in both Chinese and English sources, it identifies emerging changes in basic education related to increased school choice. Particular attention is given to the unique characteristics of interventions in school choice in China, the development of different types of non-government schools as alternatives to government education, the effort to introduce innovation in school governance and school curriculum, and increased parental and community voice in schooling. 

The paper is organized into five sections. The first section is an introduction to the subject; it explains what school choice means in China today. The second section explains why school choice has become an issue in urban China since the early 1990s. It highlights socio-economic development in Chinese society since 1978 and conflicting policies within the party-controlled State in post-1949 China. The discussion of the development of school choice and its impact is given in two sections: Section Three is a general overview of development in the country, and Section Four presents case studies in two major urban centers in China, Tianjin and Beijing. The last section is a summary; it also explores future development in school choice in China.



Tsang, M.

Comparing the costs of public and private schools in developing countries (in English) [In Levin, H. & McEwan, P. (2002), Cost effectiveness Studies in Education (2002 Yearbook of the American Education Finance Association).]

This article reviews the conceptual and methodological issues in the comparison of the costs of public and private schools. Based on empirical studies on primary and secondary education in developing countries, the review finds that many comparative cost studies are problematic in that they omit or underestimate important education costs, do not provide appropriate comparison of public and private schools, or are plagued by a lack of information. The problems could result in a significant underestimation of the costs of private schools and consequently a significant overestimation of their efficiency relative to public schools. Improper cost comparison could also lead to a failure to uncover inequities in, limitations in reaching marginalized populations through, and the role in socio-economic segregation of, alternative forms of schooling. The article highlights the need for further and better research on comparative cost analysis and indicates the technical and non-technical impediments for such research. 

Prepared for the 2002 Yearbook of the American Education Finance Association. The author is Professor of Economics and Education, and Director of the Center on Chinese Education at Teachers College Columbia University. His scholarly interests are in costs and financing of education, and education reform and economic development.



Contributors to NCSPE 

Occasional papers posted on the website of NCSPE (National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education),http://www.tc.columbia.edu/ncspe



Levin, H. 

Learning from School Reform (in English) [© Henry M. Levin.]

Major changes in schools or school reform have not been highly successful anyplace in the world. Although there are occasional reports of success, the more typical case is one where substantial change is not present. This paper comprises three parts. First, I discuss the concept of school culture to explain the challenge to school reform. I attempt to show why existing school culture is necessary for a smoothly functioning and stable school, but an obstacle to educational change. Attempts to transform school culture through external means have almost always failed. As an alternative I introduce the concept of internal transformation of culture, the empowerment of school participants to change their practices, expectations, and attitudes through introducing a change process that sets new goals and a set of tools that can be used to reach them. 

The second part introduces the Accelerated Schools Project, a project that was established in 1986 and that presently encompasses over 1,000 schools in 41 states of the U.S. and 50 schools in Hong Kong. The issue that is raised is whether a reform model developed in one country and premised on very different cultural characteristics can succeed in transforming schools in another country, Hong Kong. The various parts of the ASP process are introduced and linked to their role in the internal cultural transformation of schools. 

The final part asks what has been learned after three years of experience in Hong Kong among the 50 schools. Has the process been introduced and implemented effectively? Does it work? The paper sets out a strategy for ascertaining under what conditions the ASP approach has shown success and how those conditions might be replicated.



F. Yan and X. Lin

Minban education in China: Background and current situation (© F. Yan and X. Lin.)


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