Saturday, 11 May 2013

Hong Kong's Tiger Tutors and education system - coming soon to the UK?

Marcel Theroux with Richard Eng.

An insight into Hong Kong's education system is being brought to light in Unreported World on Channel 4 - Hong Kong's Tiger Tutors.  We follow high school student, JJ, as he prepares to undertake the Hong Kong state exam - arguably one of the hardest exams in the world.  Since the education offered to students at school is deemed insufficient by the parents, most, if not all students enroll for extra classes outside school hours.  Among the tutors running such classes is Richard Eng, a teacher of English with top celebrity status within the Hong Kong's elite tutoring group - the Tiger Tutors.  A self-made millionaire, he drives a Lamborghini and lives in a penthouse suite in one of the richest parts of Hong Kong.  Reporter Marcel Theroux exclaims "I regret not becoming a teacher!" 

From what I hear from family and relatives tutoring is indeed big business - grown on the long-standing belief that education provides the key to success and fortune.  Failing the state exam means no place at university and no chance of getting a decent job.  Therefore, the amount of pressure placed on the young shoulders of  students like JJ is immense.  Expectations from parents, tutors and fellow students are also high.  However, it is estimated only one out of four students make it to university - the rest as Eng puts it "stand at the door and sigh." Eng admits that the education system is a failure, and is a factory churning out "losers" with little or no prospect of going any further in life.  The only winners are the tutors themselves as they receive more bookings for further lessons.

It was mentioned in the report that the UK government wishes to have a similar system of education in place - one formal state exam that will  determine your future forever.  This sounds horrific, but it also makes sense.  In the UK where once a degree was viewed as an advanced achievement, now it is the norm.  There are now so many people with a degree that it is losing its value, nationally as well as internationally.  Not a good thing, since education is the UK's biggest export.  

Therefore, the glimpse of Hong Kong education system could be one of our own some day - a harsh, brutal system to separate the wheat from the chaff, as they say.  Will it also come with UK Tiger - or should I say - Lion Tutors? Suave and sophisticated demi-gods, making millions at the expense of desperate students and parents? Will it also be a factory churning out a generation of "losers", forever damned because they, for whatever reason, did not perform well on that day?

We can only wait and see.   

Channel 4 Unreported World - Hong Kong's Tiger Tutors

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