Parallel Private Lessons: Research Report on private tutoring in Cambodia
We partnered with the University of Hong Kong to conduct research on private tutoring in Cambodia. Private tutoring lessons, also called “parallel private lessons,” are sessions given by teachers to students for additional fees. These lessons can have huge impacts on education in Cambodia, by contributing to existing economic and social inequalities.
The report, Parallel Private Lessons: Scale, Nature and Implications for Policy and School Management, found nearly 82 percent of students surveyed receive private tutoring. Over half of students receive tutoring in three or more subjects, and 45 percent of Grade 12 students receive tutoring in more than five subjects. This data shows the striking prevalence of parallel private lessons in Cambodian schools.
While private lessons may review information taught during the school day, some teachers admit to saving material from the government classes to teach exclusively in their private lessons. The study found that in some cases, teachers who tutored their own students, give higher test marks to tutored students than to students who did not participate. While school test scores do not impact national exam scores, teachers can give students the impression that private lessons are essential to performing well in school.
The research also examines the impetus behind private tutoring. The most common reasons cited by students are to prepare for national exams, get exposure to different teaching methods, and increase their amount of instruction time. Teachers have strong motivations for giving private lessons, with many saying they do so in order to supplement their low government salaries.
The report raises important implications for both policy makers and school management. Policy implications include raising teacher salaries and extending the school year to allow teachers enough time to complete the entire curriculum. Recommendations for school management include prohibiting private tutoring in school and working with parents to discourage them from going directly to teachers to request private lessons for their children.
The research collected information from over 1,200 students and 70 teachers at six schools in Siem Reap province. Participating students were in Grade 9 or Grade 12 because those are the years students take national exams, and therefore when students most commonly choose to take private tutoring lessons.