Why are In-grade Retention Rates so High in Macao?
This paper seeks to address why in-grade retention rates are so high in Macao by examining the operation of its education system. To this end, I shall draw on data from a qualitative research project on educational inequality in Macao, referring specifically to criteria for in-grade retention set by different schools, the related practices of schools and teachers, and the schooling experiences of students. This examination leads me to argue that in-grade retention rates of Macao are so high mainly because its education system is a system of private schools without effective state governance. This argument, then, urges us to rethink the belief that a privatized schooling system allows competition between schools and thus provides more parental choices; therefore it is efficient and effective in providing quality education. The case of Macao suggests that competition does not necessarily guarantee more school choices for parents or the provision of quality education.