Parallel to the institutionalised school system, in which no change in pedagogical attitudes has taken place (Einhorn 2015), there is a growing demand for learning languages in non-formal contexts, including out-of-school courses that not only complement students’ studies in formal education but also seem to make the process of learning languages as well as giving academic support to students more effective. The present study aims to explore the international and Hungarian literature on shadow education, which is widespread in Hungary but has little literature (Varga 2015), by presenting the characteristics of the phenomenon and highlighting its shortcomings. A qualitative study is also presented in order to examine the expectations and experiences of the students (and their families) participating in private tutoring. Data gleaned from interviews with students and their parents are analysed to identify their motives, expectations, the development of students’ additional skills and competencies, their career aspirations and the families’ financial background. The results of the study shed light on some characteristics of shadow education that have not been visible yet. Some factors that can potentially enhance the effectiveness of language teaching in the state school system will also be highlighted. Although the study is based on a rather limited sample, the results help us gain important insights into the hidden aspects of shadow education.
In this essay I set out the current situation of Early School Leaving (ESL) in Italy by considering both data provided by institutional sources (national and international) and a review of the most recent contributions from the educational work that have been done intensively to fight against ESL over the last 20 years. I will argue that the way followed so far will not lead to surprising results, due to deep and structural persisting factors of inequality. After a short overview on the position of Italy in the European rankings, the article recalls the main interventions that took place in the country by different investors (public and non-public), setting up a multiplicity of fragmented macro-politics. Then I will look at the mechanisms of differentiation and unequal distribution of educational opportunities and I will conclude with suggestions on how to make the fight against ESL more efficient and forward-looking.