Shadow education in Beijing: Determinants and disparities from the perspectives of the students

Muhammad Abid Malik, Baocun Liu


Using 696 questionnaires from grade 12 students from four senior secondary schools in Beijing, this study investigates the types, cost, determinants and disparities caused by shadow education from the perspectives of the students. The paper investigates disparity through the parameters of ‘actual disparity’. Unlike disparity which focuses on numbers, actual disparity focuses on the reasons behind such decision and how a person feels about it. The results show that 53% of the students opted for shadow education during the last one year. Parents’ education and income appear to have a positive influence on their children’s tendencies to receive shadow education. The biggest reason for receiving it was to practice exam questions (enrichment as a group). Amongst those who did not receive it, only 21% stayed away due to unfavorable circumstances. A vast majority stayed away due to their own choice. These findings tentatively suggest that the notion that shadow education causes disparities amongst the students is exaggerated as most of them abstain by their own choice. It suggests a need to look at this issue more deeply, focusing more on the reasons and the feelings than mere numbers.

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