A tutor is an instructor who gives private lessons. Shadow education is a name for private supplementary tutoring that is offered outside the mainstream education system.

Normally, a tutor will help a student who is struggling in a subject of some sort. Also, a tutor may be provided for a student who wants to learn at home.

In the United States, the term “tutor” is generally associated with one who gives professional instruction (sometimes within a school setting but often independently) in a given topic or field.

British and Irish secondary schools[edit]

See also: Teaching assistant (United Kingdom)

In English and Irish secondary schools, form tutors are given the responsibilities of a form or class of students in a particular year group (up to 30 students). They usually work in year teams headed by a year leader, year head, or guidance teacher.[citation needed]

Form tutors will provide parents with most of the information about their child’s progress and any problems they might be experiencing. Ordinarily, the form tutor is the person who contacts a parent if there is a problem at school; however, the year leader or guidance teacher may contact the parents, since the form tutor has full-time responsibility as a specialist subject teacher.

Private tutoring in Asia[edit]

A 2012 study by the Asian Development Bank and the Comparative Education Research Centre at the University of Hong Kong pointed out that private tutoring can dominate the lives of young people and their families, maintain and exacerbate social inequalities, divert needed household income into an unregulated industry, and create inefficiencies in education systems. It can also undermine official statements about fee-free education and create threats to social cohesion.[1]

In South Korea, nearly 90% of elementary students receive some sort of shadow education.[2] In Hong Kong, about 85% of senior secondary students do so.[3] 60% of primary students in West Bengal, India,[4] and 60% of secondary students in Kazakhstan receive private tutoring.[5]

Demand for tutoring in Asia is exploding; by comparison globally, shadow education is most extensive in Asia. This is partly due to the stratification of education systems, cultural factors, perceptions of shortcomings in regular school systems, and the combination of growing wealth and smaller family sizes.[1] Therefore, the education sector has become a profitable industry which businesses have created different kinds of products and advertisement such us “the king/queen of tutorial”, a usual advertisement tactic of Hong Kong tutorial centers that has spread to South Korea, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India where tutors achieve “celebrity-like status”. [6] In some cases, successful Southeast Asian tutors will even embrace the title of “tutor”.[7] Online private tutor matching platform[8] and online learning platform offering online learning materials are other creations.

In Cambodia, most tutoring is provided by teachers,[9] whereas in Hong Kong, it is provided by individuals, small companies or large companies.[10] In Mongolia, most tutoring is labor-intensive,[11] while entrepreneurs in South Korea make use of computers and other forms of technology.[1]


Some studies have estimated costs associated with “shadow education”. In Pakistan, expenditures on tutoring per child averaged the equivalent of $3.40 a month in 2011. InIndia, average spending was lower, but still equated to about $2 per month.[12]

In Georgia, household expenditures for private tutoring at the secondary school level was $48 million in 2011.[13] In Hong Kong, the business of providing private tutoring to secondary schools reached $255 million in 2011.[14]

In India, a 2008 survey estimated the size of the private tutoring sector to be $6.4 billion.[15] In Japan, families spent a whopping $12 billion in 2010 on private tutoring.[9]

In the Republic of Korea, where the government has attempted to cool down the private tutoring market, shadow education costs have continually grown, reaching a staggering $17.3 billion in 2010. Household expenditures on private tutoring are equivalent to about 80% of government expenditures on public education for primary and secondary students.[16]

In the United States, the tutoring market is fragmented. Some online tutoring marketplaces, however, have managed to aggregate a large number of private tutors on their platform and also tutoring data. For example, one such site has over 34,000 registered tutors in California and made tutoring hourly rate data for California public.[17]


In many countries, individuals can become tutors without training. In some countries, including Cambodia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Lao PDR, and Tajikistan, the pattern of classroom teachers supplementing their incomes by tutoring students after school hours is more a necessity than a choice, as many teachers’ salaries hover close to the poverty line.[1]

In the Republic of Korea, the number of private tutors expanded roughly 7.1% annually on average from 2001 to 2006, and by 2009 the sector was the largest employer of graduates from the humanities and social sciences.[18]

Private tutoring is not always effective in raising academic achievement; and in some schools students commonly skip classes or sleep through lessons because they are tired after excessive external study. This means that the shadow system can make regular schooling less efficient.[1]

Teachers who spend more time focusing on private lessons than regular classes can cause greater inefficiencies in the mainstream school system. Situations in which teachers provide extra private lessons for pupils for whom they are already responsible in the public system can lead to corruption, particularly when teachers deliberately teach less in their regular classes in order to promote the market for private lessons.[19]

When private tutoring is provided by well trained tutor however the effects can be dramatic, with pupils improving performance by two standard deviations.[20] See also Bloom’s 2 Sigma Problem.

The system of excessive private tutoring will take time for activities such as playing soccer or joining clubs from students.[21]


A 2012 study by the Asian Development Bank and the Comparative Education Research Centre at the University of Hong Kong recommended policymakers across the region take a closer look at how ‘shadow education’ affects family budgets, children’s time, and national education systems. It suggested that in order to reduce the need for private lessons, improvements in mainstream schools should be made. Regulations are also needed to protect consumers.[1]