Get all stakeholders involved in finding ways to improve our education system

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 June, 2012, 12:00am


I refer to the report ('Mass tutoring churning out 'robot pupils'', May 19) and Alex Lo's article ('Schools' failure the fuel for tutor industry', May 19).

In the report, Mark Bray, professor of comparative education at the University of Hong Kong, said parents should 'not neglect the personal development of their children'.

Many local teachers and parents do treasure balanced, whole-person development for our young people but have to deal with the harsh reality of local education.

Professor Bray said public schools here, compared with those in other countries, 'were considered well-funded, so the government should have no excuse for not raising standards'.

It would greatly benefit our younger generation if there could be a dialogue among the government, education scholars, teachers, administrators, students, parents and other stakeholders to find a way forward.

We need insight from different parties - those in the classroom involved in the daily teaching and learning process; scholars with knowledge of studies who can inform the formulation of concrete local policies; and officials considering and balancing priorities, plans, constraints, impacts and allocation of funds. The government should take the lead and join forces with the relevant groups to draw up the necessary plans.

Mass tutoring is only the tip of the iceberg. What studies have been done to understand pupils' reasons for seeking help outside classes, such as from tutorial colleges? Are the needs real or psychological? How does sitting in a large tutorial class compare to being in the classroom of a mass education system?

As for teachers, the pillars of our education system, have they been given resources and support to accomplish the various responsibilities expected of them in the reformed education system?

Professor Bray suggests we look to Finland, where pupils excel without tutoring colleges, because its schools cater to different pupils, including low achievers who get remedial help. Consequently, parents and pupils trust their teachers.

I would like to know what concrete recommendations can be put forward for our education system. I wonder if any studies have been done that have identified the limitations of our existing set-up in Hong Kong.

Only by getting to the root of the problems in our system and by involving all important stakeholders will we be able to find the solutions.

L. H. Leung, North Point