top of page
  • Writer's pictureAndrew Wong

How to Setup and Manage a Shadow Education Institute in Hong Kong

Thinking of venturing into the educational system in Hong Kong? Perhaps you have teaching skills, or you're quite knowledge in certain subjects or area. You may as well settle for shadow education. Or you could have already considered this as an option, but you do not have the proper guide on how to go about it. Then this is for you. Shadow Education, also known as private tutoring, is a form of education that is outside, and beyond the formal setting of a school. From the Cantonese translation, Shadow Education simply means supplementary and that is what it does exactly. It does not replace the formal system already in place, but rather it adds to it. A shadow education institute usually takes the form of a private tutorial. Students come to gain extra knowledge about things they have been taught in class in the private tutorial.

Keeping this in mind, you may decide to setup and manage your own shadow education institute. The following points can help in you successfully set up and manage your own shadow education institute.

Decide on the scale

First, you have to understand that a Shadow education institute is different from a school, regardless of how big or small it may be.

One of the key features of this mode of education is the fact that it's private. Private in the sense that the tutor collects a fee, and may be a one-on-one system, or a group of friends, or setting up an after-school service for just about anybody. Some shadow education institute take up to hundreds of students.

You need to have a clear-cut idea of what form you want to take, as deciding well can help for better planning and overall management.

Identify your strengths

As stated before, shadow education is all about providing supplementary education to subjects already done by the student in school, touching areas the student may be confused in. You have to be sure of what subjects you're capable of taking and the extent of your knowledge in such subjects. In Hong Kong, the major subjects include English and Mathematics. Where you are not so qualified but you feel you have the means to set up a tutorial all the way, be sure to employ the best hands.

Consider your resources

Although starting a private tutorial does not cost as much as other businesses, still it's wise to have an idea of the resources at your disposal, not just money alone. Perhaps you have decided to start teaching from home, that is letting the students come to your house, or you have a shop in town you could use, or you may even be capable of renting one just for that purpose, for example, just for weekends, or specific days. Pay close attention to this point as it can ultimately affect everything.

Decide on your mode of lecture

This is mostly affected by the scale of your audience, and factors like distance. You have the option of person-to-person lecture, either at their home, or at an already agreed spot, or perhaps through video calls and online learning. There are various ways to connect online, and this bridges the issue of distance, as it would no longer be an excuse on why a student cannot attend your lecture. Also, you would have to decide on when to operate, perhaps all year round, during exam periods only, or maybe during the holidays.

Set a good fee charge

What sets private tutoring, or shadow education from other form of learning is that it's not free, in that things like an elder brother or a family friend rendering assistance to younger ones doesn't qualify. Rather it's any form of paid teaching beyond the normal school setting. So be sure to set an attractive rate that would not discourage people, and one that would not see you as slaving away. Try to find a balance.

Employ more hands

As time goes on, it may become necessary to bring in more people, maybe due to increase in number of students, or the need to take up other subjects. Be sure to get qualified individuals with good academic records, as that can attract more students. Still as you do this, never be out of reach of your students. If possible, continue to take the subject you started with, or if you can't, due to other engagements, try to visit as often as you can. Very important.

Publicize your success

It is not uncommon for private tutorials to publicize the examination records of their past, and even present students. The reason why most parents send their wards is just so they can be successful in examinations, especially the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) examination, which is necessary to gain admission into tertiary institutions

Publicizing the results of successful candidates in such examination who attended your tutorial is a sure boost to get you more students, as people tend to use that as a benchmark to consider just how good your tutorial is.

Pay attention to branding

Branding is the image of your business, which in this case is your tutorial, therefore you should pay adequate attention to it. Print flyers and posters and other forms of advertising. Let people know you and know what you do.

We also have a detailed guide on how to promote your learning centre in Hong Kong.

Keep it simple

Remember, a private tutorial is not a school, there is the need to relax the mode of learning here. So cut back the rules, and maintain a simple language. But don't be too lax so that your students forget where they are. They are there to learn, and you are there to teach them. Being too strict or too formal might drive away your students.

Be innovative

Running a shadow education institute requires innovation to set it apart from formal schools. You may have to adopt teaching methods according to the taste of the student, rather than yours. This stems from the fact that the students know exactly what they want to gain, and it can also help you streamline your scheme. Although this is easier to do with a smaller audience, as attempting such with a large audience can prove problematic.


Managing a shadow institute is not as stressful as you might have presumed. You must remember to treat it like what it is - a business, and the sure way to reap maximum output in a business is by putting in adequate effort and resources.

Taking things step-by-step, and also paying important to key details would surely bring out the best results.

Location is key

When setting up a private tutorial, there is need to pay attention to where you would like to set up base. One of such places that is sure to attract students is areas near or around a university. Having run several data regressions, we find that the reason for this is it's easy for people to associate your tutorial with the repute of the university. You can also decide to set them up near primary and secondary schools. Just be sure to locate them near areas that would be spike interest in people.

bottom of page