An original version of this article appeared in Hong Kong Free Press on July 6, 2015:
A tutorial centre has drawn controversy after its leaflet warned parents that if their children did not attend summer school, they might end up living in low income districts.
The leaflet, which was handed out by Sun Hing School of Chi Tak Education Centre, featured a chart showing the median income of housing estates next to different MTR stations. It stated that “whether your son/daughter lives in Tai Wo or Lake Silver depends on your arrangement this summer. Do not undermine his/her future.”
According to the chart, the median income of Tai Wo Estate is $18,400, whereas Silver Lake is $60,000.
The centre came under fire after a Facebook user uploaded a photo of the leaflet last Tuesday. The user said, “Is it necessary for tutorial centres to look down at certain districts in their advertisements? What values are they teaching to the next generation of Hong Kong?”
One user said they were “only looking for money,” whilst another asked, “how can you educate without wisdom and virtue?”
The tutorial centre responded on Facebook: “Someone’s complained about us, we can only say thank you.”
Chi Tak Education Centre, which manages a franchise of tutorial centre outlets, stated on Facebook last Wednesday that the branch was an outsourced centre. It admitted negligence in its management, and assured the problem would be fixed immediately.
The advertisement raised concerns about the intense competition students face. In April, Ever Learning Tutorial Group came under fire after posting a controversial advertisement for its kindergarten “interview class”.
The poster said: “You do not like competition? But there’ll always be competition! Enroll now, and let your kids become a ‘king of interviews’.” A spokesperson for the tutorial centre said that it was “showing a cruel fact honestly in front of parents”, and refused to withdraw the advertisement.
In June, Apple Daily reported a case where a mother spent several thousand dollars a month for her son to attend 11 extra-curricular activities, including taekwondo, drawing, swimming, piano and African drums.
The incident reignited discussions on whether the existing education system puts too much pressure on students.