Campus catwalk

Amid fierce competition for students, local tutorial centres are increasingly styling their tutors as celebrities to promote their courses.

Advertisements showing smartly-dressed tutors can be seen around the city, on billboards, buses and the MTR.

Traditional schools have long poured scorn on such commercial marketing tactics adopted by these centres.

They think that education should be more about content than image.

But a primary school in Sham Shui Po thinks otherwise. Last month, Ying Wa Primary School asked their 62 teachers to pose in smart suits so they could have their photograph taken.

Posters of the teachers were then plastered inside the school's entrance lobby and lifts.

In the face of criticism from other schools and educators, the principal of the school argued that teachers should dress like professionals to serve as a role model for students.

'The way teachers dress and speak leaves an impression on students. They should dress smartly as a show of respect for their work,' said Maria Lam Woo-sum.

Ms Lam also criticised the poor attire of local teachers. 'Some male teachers wear jeans to work and sandals are also common among female teachers. This is ridiculous!' said Ms Lam.

The image-conscious principal further defended her decision as a move to dissuade students from attending tutorial classes.

'I'm not copying what private tutorials do. I just want students to know that famous tutors are not exclusive to those centres. Our teachers are all smart and professional. It's not necessary for them to get extra tutorial lessons.'

However, not everyone in the local education sector agrees with Ms Lam.

Steven Lui, principal of AD&FD POHL Leung Sing Tak College, thinks that putting too much emphasis on appearance will give students the wrong message.

'Instead of flaunting expensive suits and clothes, teachers should be down-to-earth. They should devote their attention to teaching, not image-building. Otherwise, students will think that packaging is more important than content,' said Mr Lui.

Setting strict dress codes for teachers is unusual in local schools.

While students must conform to strict rules, most local schools do not restrict what their teachers can wear.

'We don't have strict dress codes for teachers. Decent dressing is enough. Most of our teachers dress casually for work and we respect their freedom to choose what they wear,' said Yiu Sai-ming, principal of Tsuen Wan Government Secondary School.

Students from the Tsuen Wan school also prefer their teachers to dress casually.

Yau Hong-yin, a Form Five arts student, doesn't pay much attention to what her teachers wear.

'I like teachers who care about us and conduct their lessons well. I don't care about their clothes,' she said.

Hong-yin attends weekly English lessons in a private tutorial centre in Tsuen Wan. She took up extra classes purely out of practical needs.

'My English is not good enough so I go to extra lessons to improve it. Adverts promoting tutorial centres and their star tutors are everywhere, but I won't be affected by them,' she said.