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Forging an Educational Eden – Chan Hung
Forging an Educational Eden – Chan Hung
Chan Hung
Chan Hung
Founder of Principal Chan Free Tutorial World, Jockey Club Neo Education Lab

Had Principal Chan chosen to go with the flow and live with stifling oppression, he might still be a world-class table tennis player today – albeit in retirement.

Fourteen years ago, Chan Hung became the youngest secondary school principal in Hong Kong, and was a young-and-upcoming star in education. After six years, he gave up his well-paying job as a principal and struck out on his own, opening the “Principal Chan Free Tutorial World”. Equipped with just one folding chair and one pull-up banner, he provided one-to-one, in person, free tutorial service to grassroots students. Overnight, he became the “zero-income principal”.

Fourteen years ago, Chan Hung became the youngest secondary school principal in Hong Kong and was a young-and-upcoming star in education.
A small setback inspired an unconventional education

Now 48, Chan Hung was born in Nanchang City of Jiangxi Province during the Cultural Revolution. Separated from his parents and younger brother, he left his hometown and went to live with his grandma and uncle. At six, he was chosen to join the Xiamen City Table Tennis team; and even at this young age, he was used to practicing his moves for hours every day – using a table tennis paddle cast entirely in bronze. He recalled, “I repeated those moves thousands of times, every single day. It was painful enough to draw tears from me.” Though practice had honed Chan’s skills to perfection, he ironically admitted to having little love for the sport. “I didn’t really like it. I just had no choice as a child.” He also deeply felt that “being forced to do something gives it no meaning and will never lead to a good result”. In the end, he gave up table tennis completely.

Chan Hung was already a brilliant student before he came to Hong Kong. His grasp of Chinese and Mathematics was exceptional, though he had yet to learn the English alphabet. Nevertheless, he cared little what others thought and was confident in his own abilities. Upon coming to Hong Kong, he quickly caught up to the local curriculum; and after securing offers from such prestigious schools as Queen’s College and La Salle College, he enrolled in the former. His seemingly effortless success was actually a result of his diligence and perseverance. At 11, he took English foundation courses at the British Council and studied vocabulary and grammar with a class of retired old-timers. While he insisted it was “a breeze”, it was thanks to help from outside traditional education avenues that he managed to catch up. He realised true education is about helping students and empowering them to change their future. Sensing that the existing education system has reduced the chance for impoverished and grassroots students to improve themselves, Chan decided to extend to them a helping hand by offering free one-to-one tuition to students of low-income families, giving them a boost in school work, as well as in their personal development.

With the support of The Hong Kong Jockey Club, Chan Hung expanded his free tuition scheme to families and schools by founding the Jockey Club Neo Education Lab in 2016.
Giving up a million-dollar job for a “new world”

In 2009, with the full support of his wife, Chan Hung decided to give up his job as a school principal – which paid HK$1 million a year – and engage in a zero-pay mission to provide free tuition to impoverished students. To supplement his livelihood, he wrote newspaper columns and worked as a security guard. After six years of hard work, he now has a team of 14; and so far, over 9,000 voluntary tutors have joined him to give help to over 10,000 students. Mindful of protecting his students’ self-esteem, Chan rejects small-class teaching and insists on one-to-one tuition – which eliminates comparisons in academic performance. This he does to show how much he cares for every single one of his students.

In 2016, a family tragedy befell the Chan family: Chan Hung’s wife passed away from illness. With the community taking the initiative to raise funds for his family, Chan soon had enough to cover the educational expenses for his three children. Moved by this show of warmth, he decided to give back to the community in another way – by expanding his free tuition scheme to families and schools through the Jockey Club Neo Education Lab, which he founded with the support of The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. This new initiative aims to inspire schools and parents to work together toward promoting innovative education in primary and secondary schools, and to address learning issues through a combination of experiential camps, seminars and parent education publications. Chan also regularly sets up inflatable mobile classrooms in different districts to offer students a free, enjoyable learning environment where even parents can take part. This helps to inspire the public to reflect on the limitless possibilities of education.

Academic performance aside, Chan Hung also aims to broaden his students’ horizons and cultivate their many talents. Through the Jockey Club Tai Kok Tsui Talent Development Centre, Chan engages his students in free activities so that all may realise holistic development and take advantage of comprehensive learning opportunities. Chan Hung insists on teaching without discrimination, and hopes to blaze new trails toward promoting his education ideals to every walk of society – starting with family education.

Guided by his faith and passion, Chan Hung is determined to paint a different picture of education for the next generation.
Chan Hung believes in teaching without discrimination. He has found many likeminded supporters on his path, and is determined to blaze new trails in education.

“That which you believe to be right, hesitate not – just go ahead and do it! If your path is correct, you will get help along the way.” Guided by his faith and passion, Chan Hung is determined to paint a different picture of education for the next generation, stroke by stroke.

Jockey Club Neo Education Lab
Phone: 2782 2700

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