The Newsletter 56 Spring 2011

Facing the shadow education system in Hong Kong

Ora KwoMark Bray

The pressures faced by Hong Kong families have increased in competitive society. The so-called shadow education system of supplementary tutoring has spread in influence and intensity. For both parents and their children, it is difficult to find the right balance.

A recent editorial in Hong Kong’s major English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post, was entitled ‘The lesson that all parents need to learn’.1 It commenced: — Children need to know there is life outside the classroom. Playing, exploring, making friends and developing new hobbies should be as important as schoolwork. But in our scholastic-obsessed culture, school study takes up a disproportionate share of a young person’s life. The editorial highlighted a study by the University of Hong Kong which indicated that 58 percent of parents paid for private tutorial classes. The newspaper pointed out that such costs were a financial burden. For many children, it added, “they impose a heavy psychological toll” and that “a byproduct has been a shadow, parasitic tutorial industry that exploits the insecurity of parents and students”.

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