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Hong Kong tutorial centres offer short-cuts to good grades, but what about life’s tests?

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 August, 2018, 4:33pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 August, 2018, 4:32pm

My schoolmates often complain about spoon-feeding in Hong Kong’s education system. Ironically, many of them also attend cram schools to get tips on how to ace exams. This makes me wonder about the effect tutorial centres have on how pupils study and learn.

Inspired by a friend, I once enrolled in a Chinese language course at one such centre. But a few months later, I lost the motivation to read and appreciate Chinese literary novels in my leisure time, because of the undue emphasis placed on exam strategies.

While the techniques taught in cram schools might help students to score higher marks in exams, they don’t really make learning easier. Besides, excessive reliance on cram schools could hinder students’ ability to think independently and critically.

Many tutors exaggerate their ability by presenting themselves as superstars and calling themselves “kings” and “queens” in their ubiquitous advertisements. Some students treat them as idols and blindly follow them. These students might never learn to solve problems on their own or to develop into people who are curious about the world and ask questions.

Worse still, by exaggerating the importance of getting top grades in public exams like the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education, these celebrity tutors often convey the wrong message that learning is just for sitting exams and gaining admission to university.

Why is private tutoring such a big deal in Hong Kong?

Learning should be a lifelong journey, in which we consistently pursue and absorb new knowledge. However, in our exam-oriented culture – partly boosted by the flourishing tutorial industry – this is now seen as wishful and idealistic thinking.

Students should realise that there is no easy route to success or learning. A quick-fix, short-cut, exam-oriented mentality would leave them largely ignorant and prone to succumbing to bigger challenges in life.

Norman Wan, Aberdeen