A world of words
Despite their huge posters in shopping centres and bus shelters, they are not film stars or supermodels. They are the “tutor kings and queens” in Hong Kong, those super teachers who offer pupils a chance to improve their marks.
Their looks are very important and their sohisticated hairstyles and design clothes make them very popular. Some have become millionaires and they usually appear on television shows.
“If you want to be a top tutor, it definitely helps if you are young and attractive. Students look at your appearance,” said Kelly Mok, 26, a “tutor queen” .
The celebrity tutor phenomenon is a result of the huge growth in out-of-school tutoring in Asia, fuelled by highly pressured examination systems and ambitious parents, who want their children to enter the best universities and secondary schools.
This industry, or “shadow education” as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) calls it in a recent study, has become very widespread in Asia. One of the authors of the ADB study, said a staggering 72% of final-year school students in Hong Kong now go to private tutors. In South Korea, 90% of primary school children attend such classes.
In South Korea, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India, tutorial schools use star tutors to attract even more students. “They have found a way to appeal to young people and pull them in. They create a buzz,” he said.