Shadow Education in Asia and the Conflict of Interests


Shadow education is a form of private supplementary tutoring, which is predominant across the globe. It can be considered as the topic of the study and the given literature review, which is mostly focused on current trends in both Asia and the world. The research question is based on the challenges teachers teaching in primary schools of Maldives face due to shadow education. In total, six articles were reviewed, and the themes identified revolve around tutor motivations, effects of extra lessons on students, socioeconomic status, shadow education in Asia and the conflict of interests, and dependence.

Literature Review

Tutor Motivations

Private supplementary tutoring facilitates a wide range of major issues, among which social inequality is the most prominent. However, there is little to no information on the industry’s impact on teachers of the mainstream educational process. A study suggests that one of the primary issues with shadow education is the fact that many tutors in the field are not planning to stay for the long term (Trent, 2015). In other words, there is a professional disparity among mainstream educators and private teachers, which can be manifested in the quality and direction of the learning process in primary school students of Maldives. Although the evidence is coming from Hong Kong, such conflict of interest is prevalent among many Asian nations, including the Maldives.

In recent years, tutoring for preschoolers has been widely developed. This service ensures that the child enters the school chosen by the parents. The promotion of such tutoring services, whether in the form of preparatory courses or private ones, may not develop capacity at an early stage. It is appropriate when preparing a child for school to reveal his or her ability, some of the opportunities inherent in education. This will allow for school admission to filter children by capability, forming groups or classes for children with equal learning ability. In turn, it can lead to the most effective learning process and, importantly, to the child’s absence of psychological trauma (Entrich, 2019). This occurs when his ability to perceive school material does not match the pace of learning of the whole or most of the class team.

Student Performance

Extra classes facilitate the emergence of socioeconomic disparity and make the overall effect substantially stronger. The main reason is that students who can afford them perform significantly better than their peers (Marshall & Fukao, 2018). This discrepancy destabilizes the learning process within the classroom, which makes it challenging for a teacher to ensure the growth and effective learning for every student. It is especially relevant in primary school settings because even the smallest discrepancy among students can lead to large differences in outcomes in the later stages. Socioeconomic status is the key predictor of whether or not a student will seek out shadow education services (Entrich, 2019). It puts a great deal of stress and pressure on mainstream educators because it becomes challenging for them to ensure that low-performing students with lower socioeconomic status can keep pace.

Asian Shadow Education and Conflict of Interests

The market resilience of the shadow education industry is another element of the issue for primary school teachers of Maldives. It is stated that the majority of Asian countries already possess a robust and strong private tutoring market sector, which will not dissolve, but rather continue to expand (Byun & Baker, 2015). In other words, the industry will no longer disappear due to market forces, and its widespread presence will lead to its growth in terms of market share and services. One should note that shadow education is mostly unregulated, and although it follows the curriculum of formal education, the approaches might not be in the best interest of the student (Zhang & Bray, 2020). For example, a mainstream teacher might explain and facilitate the specific method for solving the math problem because it allows students to learn the underlying concepts better despite the methodology itself being inefficient. However, a tutor and private organization are interested to boost the client’s performance, which is why he or she might teach an approach that is effective but does not promote understanding.

Geographical location is another critical factor that determines the scope of challenges the teachers face. A study suggests that students of poorer nations among South-Eastern and Eastern Asian countries are more likely to pursue shadow education compared to wealthier and more developed ones (Byun et al., 2018). In other words, the problem is more prominent in the Maldives in contrast to the notions mentioned above. Private education or tutoring is gaining momentum in the Maldives. Previously, tutoring only compensated for the lack of knowledge acquired by students and schoolchildren.

Currently, tutoring provides an opportunity not only to improve the quality of education of pupils and students but sometimes, in some disciplines, performs the main function of state educational institutions such as schools and universities. Tutoring itself can be divided into two main categories. This includes one-to-one private or small group lessons and organized courses. They exist at educational institutions and are aimed at classes with their potential applicants. The latter category also includes the recently widely developed preparatory courses for admission to a school, which are organized at schools and kindergartens. In Asian countries, group classes are becoming more popular, and in more developed countries, online courses using the Internet are increasingly developing (Entrich, 2019). In the Maldives, additional education without personal contact with the teacher has not yet become so widespread. Therefore, it is still imperative for an effective educational process to establish a mutual understanding between teacher and student.


Another disadvantage for teachers is a decrease in the level of independence in the study of the subject. This is expressed through false expectations of parents and students themselves regarding the capabilities and abilities of students. Such influences most strongly affect students whose ability to perceive and understand the subject being studied is limited, or the students themselves are simply unmotivated (Entrich, 2019). The capability of people to independently master the proposed material is one of the main components of the successful acquisition and use of any knowledge. In these cases, the tutor often acts as a supervisor and assistant, in which the student is obliged to do his homework. Thus, the knowledge the tutor invests in such a student is short-term in the sense that it helps to raise the level of current grades through regular homework.


In conclusion, shadow education is a strong and resilient market sector that directly reinforces socioeconomic disparity. In the case of Maldives’s primary education, the teachers are faced with major challenges of ensuring equal growth and performance increase among the children. In addition, the industry’s curriculum and methodological approaches might vary greatly, and it might not be in the student’s interest. Lastly, poorer nations are more likely to adhere to shadow education, which means Maldives’s mainstream teachers are facing more prominent challenges of helping low-performing students with lower socioeconomic status.


Byun, S. Y., & Baker, D. P. (2015). Shadow education. Emerging Trends in The Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1-9. doi:10.1002/9781118900772.etrds0301

Byun, S., Chung, H. J., & Baker, D. P. (2018). Global patterns of the use of shadow education: Student, family, and national influences. Research in the Sociology of Education, 20, 71-105.

Entrich, S. R. (2019). Shadow education and social inequalities in Japan: Evolving patterns and conceptual implications. Springer.

Marshall, J. H., & Fukao, T. (2018). Shadow education and inequality in lower secondary schooling in Cambodia: Understanding the dynamics of private tutoring participation and provision. Comparative Education Review, 63(1), 1–23.

Trent, J. (2015). Constructing professional identities in shadow education: Perspectives of private supplementary educators in Hong Kong. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 15(2), 115-130.

Zhang, W., & Bray, M. (2020). Comparative research on shadow education: Achievements, challenges, and the agenda ahead. European Journal of Education, 55(3), 322-341.

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ChalkyPapers. "Shadow Education in Asia and the Conflict of Interests." February 18, 2022.