1x2

Exam Tutors are the Real Celebrities

  

Exam Tutors are the Real Celebrities

When you enter the hall at one of Modern Education's Hong Kong centers, you have the feeling you are at a movie theatre lobby. The difference, however, is that the idols on the portraits lining the walls aren't movie stars but exam tutors.

It might sound strange, but exam tutors are depicted as celebrities in Hong Kong. This is because the exam-preparation business has become as fiercely competitive in Hong Kong as school itself. Cramming centers are turning their employees into celebrities, plastering their names and faces on the city's buses, metro stations and billboards.
“Some tutoring has existed since the existence of schooling,” said Mark Bray, a professor of comparative education at the University of Hong Kong. “But what's interesting is that in Hong Kong, the star tutors have found a formula to work pretty much in an industrialized way, with mass production.”
High school students in the territory used to take two major standardized tests. But in 2009 the Education Bureau cut that down to one, a move that was supposed to reduce student anxiety and promote “whole-person development and lifelong learning capabilities.”
That is not how things have worked out, anyway. On the contrary as students' futures now depend on that one big test, which has sparked the demand for preparation and tutoring.
Now there are about 2,600 registered private schools offering “nonformal curriculums” - the category that includes tutoring centers - in Hong Kong, a number that amounts to more than twice the number of primary and secondary schools in the territory.
According to Minnie Wong, a Modern Education spokesman, the company has more than 50 centers on its own, and an advertising budget of more than $1 million.
The star system can be very lucrative. Antonia Cheng, a veteran tutor for Modern Education who has estimated that she had taught more than 100,000 students within the last decade, said some of the company's most popular tutors earn millions of dollars yearly.
She also said that the portraits of her that appear on city buses are so heavily retouched that she does not feel like a celebrity outside of class.

 

up Top