Analyzing the context which affects the implementation and impact of educational reforms: Insights from Hong Kong and South Korean cases (An English version follows at the end of the article)
当今世界，各国政府提高其全球竞争力的需求日益迫切，而纷纷将教育改革视为其中一项策略。长期以来的研究显示，教育改革的实施及其效果在很大程度上取决于它们的情境因素(例如kiely, 2012; Philips & Ochs, 2003) 。基于此种假设，有些学者在进一步的研究中，提出了一系列全面且详细的会影响改革实施和效果的情境特征 (例如 Cheng, 2005; Lee et al., 2015) 。医疗、卫生等领域的研究者认真分析政策实施的情境，提出得到系统文献综述或实证研究证实的模型 (例如 Pfadenhauer et al., 2017; Sayer et al., 2017) ，反观在教育领域内，尚未见此方面的研究。目前现存的少量研究中，研究范围仅限于学校 (例如 Ball, Maguire & Braun, 2011; Marsh et al., 2017) 或是单一政策 (例如 Weatherson, Gainforth & Jung, 2017) 。这份论文旨在通过识别学校及其以上层面的情境特征，并分析多项教育改革的政策，尤其是在香港和/或韩国实行的英语教育政策，教师评估和课程外判等方面，以期填补教育领域内相关的研究缺口。
这里的情境是指与改革相互作用的「物质性、结构性及关系性」的环境 (Ball, Maguire & Braun, 2011, p. 588) 。本文将在国家/地域、区域/地区、以及学校三个层面进行讨论。尽管在实践中，这三个层面之间的关系是可能是更多面向的，但这三个层面基本反映了，至少在文本研究的个案情境里，教育改革中常见的自上而下的信息流动。这里需要说明的是，并不是所有提及的环境特征与本文研究的政策都有着等同的关系。
在国家/地域层面，正如Choi (即将出版) 所论述的，不仅存在法律制度、教育制度、一般政策决定程序和步调、现有政策等较为显现的情境特征；还有文化，目标现象与情境之间的历史关系等较为隐性的特征，这些皆被认定对新改革议程具有影响力。例如在香港，在教育外判的法例规定下，学校必须对外判课程记录在册及报告，并告知公众他们如何确保所购买的课程和服务的质量。反观韩国，教育外判的做法虽然盛行，但因为缺乏相关的规章制度而从来没有记录在学校的官方文件中 (Choi, 2017b) 。另外，法律及条例这些显现的情境因素反过来也会被隐性及无形的情境因素所影响。因为作为文化的一部分，不同的教育意识形态和政策制定传统对两地有关教育外判的法律法规有不同地塑造。在韩国，教育被视为公共利益，教育问题被纳入中央政治议程，也许政党都不希望与潜在的、不受欢迎的私有化政策有任何牵连，外判一直被排除在官方政策之外；反观长期以来由私营机构提供「公共」服务的香港，政府开始在教育中引入私人合作伙伴时，公众对其并未有显著的抗拒(同上)。
情境特征中同时存在着系统的或显现的因素，和更为隐性的、不明确的因素，这一论断同样适用于其余两个层面的讨论。在区域/地区层面，系统性的环境因素则包括政府与学校之间是否存在中间组织，以及正式的、双向的沟通渠道。这些中间组织会筛选和重塑改革；而沟通渠道的成效则会促进阻碍改革。举例而言，在韩国，地区教育办事处被视为能够传达教育部制订的政府层面政策议程的机构，而这些办事处人员的能力，包括对改革知识理解的准确性，对政策落实起着至关重要的作用 (见于Choi, 2015) ；而在香港，区域办事处只具备行政上的角色，教育局则负责对接学校推行改革。 官方沟通渠道的存在能有助于政策的协商和落实。譬如，当韩国政府开展一项涉及家长、学生、学校管理层和老师等多方人士在内的教师评估制度时，该政策遭到教师激烈地质疑和反对，但是正式的、自下而上的沟通渠道帮助该项改革得到了一定程度的认可 (Choi & Walker, 2017)；然而在「以英语教授英语」计划中，由于在设计上没有包含官方自下而上的沟通渠道，最终必须重新修订，由一项管理所有教师的计划变为只与某个特定群体相关的方案 (有关更多导致此种变革的因素，详见于Choi, 2017a) 。此外，文化这类不太明显的因素同样在区域/地区层面对教育改革发挥作用：例如，在韩国，区域教育办事处中自上而下和内向型文化（inward-looking culture）构成了特定的背景，该背景限制了改革者在改革中可能的行动 (Choi, 2017c) 。
在学校层面上，对改革过程有影响且更为具体的情境特征包括在读学生的情况 (例如学术、文化和社会经济特征) 和资源 (例如人力、物力和时间) 。而更为隐含的情境因素则包括现有的改革、学校愿景和领导力。例如，在香港，外判教育由各种政府拨款所资助。而这些拨款对于社会经济背景不同的学校也起着不一样的作用。为富裕小区服务的学校通常拥有学习成绩较佳的学生，学校亦可利用资助来购买服务，以提高学生原本已经上乘的英语水平，反观为处于社会经济背景较差的小区服务的学校，他们感到资助不足，甚至连协助学生达致基本水平、以确保其进入高等教育阶段这样的迫切需求也得不到支持 (Choi, 2017b) 。就隐性的情境而言，如果将现有改革已接纳为学校文化的一部分，并且与新的教育改革保持一致，教师将很乐意接受新的改革；否则，教师们会强烈抵制改革或敷衍了事 (Choi & Walker, 2017)。
然而，正如Mijumbi-Deve和Sewankambo (2017) 指出，这些不同层面的因素相互关联并相互影响。例如，韩国的教育改革往往始于政治的变动，而非为了回应已知的教育需求，而且在大多数改革中，官方的交流渠道 (例如公开听证会和意见采集过程) 并不能很有效地发挥作用，以致公众提议将教育部独立于政治影响之外，或将之完全解散 (Choi, 2017c) 。韩国政府目前正考虑该建议的可行性，并可能会改变社会层面的政策情境。即使是学校层面的因素，诸如积极主动的领导力等，也可以为未来政策议程的设立提供信息，引起国家/地区层面上的变化 (同上) 。
Governments around the world these days are haunted by the imperative to enhance their global competitiveness, and many turn to educational reforms as a strategy. Researchers have long noted that the implementation of educational reforms and their impact are largely dependent upon their contextual features (e.g., Kiely, 2012; Phillips & Ochs, 2003). Some scholars went further to suggest comprehensive, detailed sets of contextual features that will affect reform implementation and impact, though hypothetical (e.g., Cheng, 2005; Lee et al., 2015). The fields such as medicine and health took the matter of analyzing the context of policy implementation seriously, and came up with models that were validated with systematic literature review or ones that drew on empirical studies (e.g., Pfadenhauer et al., 2017; Sayer et al., 2017), in which moves have not yet been taken up in the field of education. The few studies available have a limited scope of within-schools (e.g., Ball, Maguire, & Braun, 2011; Marsh et al., 2017), or of a single policy (e.g., Weatherson, Gainforth, & Jung, 2017). This paper aims to contribute to addressing the gap by identifying the contextual features which concern policy implementation both within schools and beyond. The study draws on an analysis of multiple policies including policies on English language education, teacher appraisal, and the outsourcing of curriculum delivery that have been implemented in Hong Kong and South Korea.
The context here is understood as the “material, structural and relational” setting that interacts with a reform (Ball, Maguire, & Braun, 2011, p. 588). It will be discussed at three levels: the nation/territory, the region/district, and schools, reflecting the common top-down information flow in educational reforms in the case contexts, although in practice, the relation between these three levels can be more lateral. It should also be noted that not all of the contextual features were equally relevant to all policies that were looked into.
At the national/territorial level, as observed in Choi (forthcoming), acceptance of a new reform agenda is affected by both more visible contextual features such as the legal system, educational system, general policy-making procedure and pace, and existing policies, and relatively implicit features such as the culture and the historical relationship between the target phenomenon and the context. For instance, in Hong Kong, the fact that there are laws and regulations which govern the outsourcing of education has made the schools document and report on the outsourced curriculum delivery and inform the public how they ensured the quality of the purchased programmes and services, whereas in South Korea, where there is no relevant regulations on educational outsourcing, the practice, though prevalent, is never captured in any official school documents (Choi, 2017b). The visible elements of the context such as laws and regulations, in turn, have been fashioned by the implicit and intangible elements of the context. For instance, the different educational ideologies and policy making tradition as part of culture, have shaped the laws and regulations concerning educational outsourcing differently across the two contexts. In South Korea, where education is perceived as a public good and where politicians turn educational issues into central, political agenda, outsourcing was kept out of official policies, perhaps no political parties wishing to be associated with a potentially unpopular, privatising policy; whereas in Hong Kong where ‘public’ services have long been provided by the private sector, the government did not have any significant resistance from the public, when it started to bring in private partners into education (ibid.).
The influence of both more systemic or visible contextual features versus more implicit, unarticulated ones is observed at the remaining two levels of the region/district and schools. At the regional/district level, for instance, the visible elements of the reform context would include the existence of intermediary organizations and official, bidirectional channels of communication between the government and schools. The organizations filter and reshape the reforms; the communicational channels may facilitate or hinder the reforms, depending on their effectiveness. To illustrate, in South Korea where the regional educational offices are expected to translate the policy agenda set at the government level by the Ministry of Education, the capacity of actors in these offices including the accuracy of knowledge about the reform plays a crucial role (see Choi, 2015), whereas in Hong Kong, where the district offices have only administrative roles, the Education Bureau directly engages with schools in reform diffusion. The existence of an official channel of communication can contribute to the settlement of a policy. When the South Korean government started a teacher appraisal system which involves multiple parties including parents and students as well as supervisors and colleagues, it was hotly resisted by teachers, however, it was noted that the official bottom-up communicative channels have helped the reform to be accepted to some degree (Choi & Walker, 2017); whereas the ‘Teaching English in English’ scheme, for which no official channel of bottom-up communication was included in the design, had to be revised after all, from a scheme which governs all teachers to one concerning only a select group (for more factors which led to its revision, see Choi, 2017a). The less visible elements such as the culture also play its role at this regional/district level. For instance, in South Korea, the top-down and inward-looking culture of the regional educational offices sets a unique background, which limits the possible actions of reform actors, though actors find ways to navigated through them (Choi, 2017c).
At the school level, the more tangible features of context which have implications for the reform process include student intake (e.g., students’ academic, cultural and socio-economic background) and resources (e.g., human resources, available budget and time), while the more implicit elements of the context include existing reforms, school vision and leadership. For instance, within Hong Kong, the policy of educational outsourcing subsidized by diverse government grants has had differential impact across schools with high and low socio-economic backgrounds. Those schools serving affluent communities usually have a student body with high English proficiency and, therefore, could use the fund to buy services that enhance students’ already fluent English. On the other hand, for schools that serve communities of low socio-economic background and of a small size, the grants were insufficient even to address students’ basic needs such as ensuring the threshold level of achievement to secure higher education (Choi, 2017b). As an example of an implicit context, existing ‘reforms’ that are already subsumed as part of the school culture, would shape teachers’ attitudes toward a new reform. If they are aligned with the new educational reform, teachers would readily welcome it; otherwise, teachers would actively resist the reform or engage with it rather perfunctorily. For instance, when Hong Kong started the new initiative of Other Learning Experience (OLE) where students are given opportunities to learn outside of schools, the schools which had similar programmes of their own initiative could easily repackage what they had been doing under the name of OLE, whereas many schools had to start doing some new projects and teachers resisted it (Choi & Walker, 2017).
The factors at these different levels, however, have interrelationship and affect one another, as was also noted by Mijumbi-Deve and Sewankambo (2017). For instance, the contextual features at the top two levels, e.g., the fact that in South Korea, educational reforms are initiated due to political changes rather than to address identified educational needs at the national level, and the fact that for most reforms, the official communicative channels (e.g., public hearings and opinion gathering processes) do not function very efficiently, have led to the public’s request either to make the Ministry of Education an entity free of political influence or to dissolve it entirely (Choi, 2017c). This proposal, if accepted by the government, may potentially change the societal level policy context. Even the school level factor, such as proactive leadership, can inform the agenda setting for the future policies, bringing in changes at the national/territorial level (Ibid).
This study has analysed the context that affects the implementation and impact of educational reforms, drawing on empirical studies. However, the identified features should yet be validated, and perhaps further expanded. It is hoped that the belated but crucial discussion that was started by this exploratory study will continue in future comparative, educational reform research.
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Dr. Taehee Choi
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