Neoliberal challenges in context: A case of Hong Kong

Tsz Lok Trevor LEE, Paula KWAN, Benjamin Yuet Man LI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to systematically analyze the neoliberal challenges and problems facing public schools in the particular Hong Kong context.

Design/methodology/approach: Based on a systematic and critical analysis on the history and socio-political context of Hong Kong's school policies and practice as well as the official documents and statistics, this paper examines the impacts of neoliberalism in four main aspects of school education in Hong Kong: school governance, accountability, privatization and government expenditure.

Findings: Convergence, as well as deviation, on neoliberal globalization occurs in the particular Hong Kong context. School bureaucracy has irresistibly expanded. Policymakers have placed increasing emphasis on instrumentally evaluating schools while decentralizing, diversifying and privatizing education. School leadership has become focused solely on succeeding within those imposed performance management and metrics, pulling ahead of school competitions and prioritizing easily quantifiable and measurable tasks. Teachers have faced a potential threat from the loss of autonomy through the market logic and consumerist metrics. The rise of privatized education has further intensified school practices based on competitiveness and performativity. On the other hand, resource cutbacks and financial constraints – problems that are generally inflicted by neoliberal discourse – have rarely occurred in Hong Kong.

Research limitations/implications: This study is part of concerted efforts in research that adopts the comparative and critical perspectives emerging from different social contexts to consider and flesh out how neoliberalism look across the school systems, how it challenges the systems differently, and how it evokes various responses from within the systems (Apple, 2001). Taken all the efforts together, a finely nuanced understanding of the trails of neoliberalism can help collectively re-discover school education as a social good, and collectively re-imagine and reshape alternatives for the future.

Originality/value: This paper offers an international and comparative perspective and further nuances to an understanding of how neoliberal policies and ideology are recontextualized in countries across the globe given particularities of different local contexts. Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-652
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Management
Volume34
Issue number4
Early online date06 Dec 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Citation

Lee, T. T.-L., Kwan, P., & Li, B. Y. M. (2020). Neoliberal challenges in context: A case of Hong Kong. International Journal of Educational Management, 34(4), 641-652. doi: 10.1108/IJEM-06-2019-0220

Keywords

  • Hong Kong
  • Accountability
  • Privatization
  • Neoliberalism
  • Government expenditure

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