HKDSE means peak season for star tutors, but are students losing out on learning?
Amid the debate over the pressure of sitting public exams like the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE), I wish to highlight the role of the cram school culture in Hong Kong.
The HKDSE causes great stress to pupils, as they are under tremendous pressure to do well under an exam-oriented education system. This anxiety and worry makes them, and their parents, turn to tutors who will often promote themselves through social media and other forms of advertising.
I believe the pupils end up relying too much on the tutorial centres. Star tutors use titles like “market leader”, “skill master” or even “god”, and guarantee top grades, and the youngsters then rely on the tutors’ skill and answering techniques to do well in exams, while ignoring actual learning. Excessive reliance on cram schools leaves students unable to develop their own faculties of critical thinking.
In the past, tutors usually helped pupils with relatively poor ability to grasp the basics of their course. However, the nature of tutoring has changed, and many now coach elite students to get higher DSE grades, and pupils who are not as talented may not be able to follow what is taught.
Some pupils even treat the tutors as their idols, blindly protecting them from criticism in internet forums or taking photos with them. It is ridiculous that tutors should be fan idols, rather than teachers, and that pupils go to the cram schools for their idols, not the quality of learning.
The high-pressure education system in Hong Kong makes it natural for pupils to crowd into cram schools, but it is important that they do not rely on tutors too much and use their own logical thinking.
Laurent Li, Tseung Kwan O