Ad for English teachers: A recognized degree in TESL, minimum 2 years’ teaching experience, good communication skills, willingness to work in a team, and good looks. The last criterion may be the most important yet. In the increasingly competitive cram schools (“bou zap se”) of Hong Kong, teachers are hired and marketed based on their sexy and attractive appearance.

sexy_teacher01.jpgTeachers have their own team of fashion designers, make-up stylists and photographers to take care of their image. Long-legged teachers adorn giant billboards, TV commercials, newspapers ads, buses, and trains. Their photographs are also posted on websites where potential students can view them, read online journals, and download video clips of “gag moments” in class.

According to cram schools operators, their competitors are becoming so good at predicting exam questions and imparting exam skills to students that they need something radical to stay on edge. Beautiful and sexy teachers seem the obvious answer. Teenagers are known to go ga-ga over beautiful movie stars in the highly established entertainment industry of Hong Kong. Sex is also guaranteed to sell, especially for the hormone-pumping teenagers.

Youngsters in Hong Kong need to take two college exams during their seven years in secondary school and they have to pass both to get into a university. Thus the majority of students trek to tuition centers after school to prepare themselves for the all-important exams.

The Census and Statistics Department says a third of secondary school youngsters sought private tutoring in the 2004-05 school year, spending $18.9 million a month — 25 percent more than five years earlier. It’s a multi-million industry and attractive teachers are part of effective marketing strategies.

In the near future, government and private schools may start hiring attractive teachers in a bid to capture student interest and boost exam results. Teachers are entrusted with the role of imparting knowledge and moral values to youngsters. When physical beauty and sex appeal become the criteria for teacher selection, the potential of our youngsters are greatly limited. Instead of respecting teachers for their knowledge and wisdom, students are encouraged to admire physical beauty and sex appeal. They value the baser instincts of humankind at the price of the pursuit of excellence in other aspects of life.

Education upholds and imparts society’s values. Thus when the quality of educators are compromised, the rot of society has begun.