May 03, 2012|
HK Magazine: Why did you quit your job to establish Principal Chan’s Free Tutorial Center?
Chan Hung: For the past decade or so, the market mechanism has infiltrated into the education system, and many schools face the crisis of closing down. Most schools only care about the results of public examinations. The weaker and problematic students are getting less and less attention as teachers face staff cuts and have to deal with a lot of administrative work. Even during my time as a headmaster, eight to ten kids dropped out each year. This is not what education should be like.
HK: What do you think education should be like?
CH: There should be a place for everyone in the education system. I’ve met high school students whose English proficiency is very low, just like children in kindergarten. For people who cannot even understand basic prepositions like “by” and “at,” class is meaningless unless teachers help them catch up. Many motivated students are unable to get private tutorial services due to economic difficulties. In a healthy education system, there shouldn’t just be good schools for smarter students and a huge market of tutorial schools for richer students—there should also be something for students at the periphery.
HK: How have you been trying to help solve this problem?
CH: By establishing Principal Chan’s Free Tutorial Center, I want to ensure that everyone gets an equal opportunity in education. We provide one-on-one tutorial services with volunteer tutors. Some retired teachers also offer free piano, drama and dancing classes.
HK: What are the biggest surprises you’ve encountered?
CH: The help and kindness I receive still surprise me. Parents of students we’ve helped bring us food and offer free cleaning services. We receive many small-amount donations, which is extra touching because we know they are helping in ways that they can. A lot of people also sign up as volunteer tutors—but not all are suitable for our students. We really need more volunteer tutors, especially those who speak and write good English.
HK: What are your future plans for the center?
CH: Our first target is to improve the quality of our tutorial services and to start a program which offers free phone and internet tutorial services. Around 200 students have signed up for our tutorial services, but only about 90 of them are matched with a suitable tutor. Through stationing three part-time tutors at our office from, say, 3pm to 7pm, students can call or post their questions on the internet and get feedback right away. We have recently launched the “Four Ones Donation Program”, encouraging donors to donate one hundred dollars in one month in a year. But we lack the money even to advertise the program.
HK: What made you so passionate about education?
CH: I was born in China and am deeply influenced by Confucian education ideologies, which advocates that education should be for all people. As an educated person, I also feel that I have a social responsibility. My mother also influenced me in ways I didn’t realize before, I guess. She has been a teacher for a very long time, and even today, she is still very close with her students. About 400 of them visit her every year during the Chinese New Year. The respect they show her really left a mark on me.
Make a donation or register as a volunteer tutor at Principal Chan’s Free Tutorial Center at www.neoyoungster.com/cac/about_us.php.