Special-needs pupil relishes 'more relevant' system
No one got a prized 5** grade, but the atmosphere at the Red Cross John F. Kennedy Centre was nonetheless jubilant yesterday as pupils with disabilities learnt of how they performed in the first HKDSE exams.
Four of the 12 students from the special-needs school in Sandy Bay who took the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exams achieved passing grades for all their subjects. Two got the second-highest grade of 5* in at least one subject.
Teachers and pupils praised the results and said the new system had made it easier to prepare and perform alongside their able-bodied peers.
'Compared to the previous system, everything has become a lot more comprehensive,' said Lam Kam-ping, one of the school's top-scoring pupils. 'It feels more relevant to our lives.'
Lam, who achieved a 5* grade in Chinese and grade 4 in both geography and liberal studies, said the HKDSE exams were more difficult than the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination and required her to devote more of her free time towards studying.
But the programme's comprehensive nature allowed her to explore more of her interests in school and in extra-curricular activities.
Pupils at the centre have a wide range of physical, mental and learning disabilities. Some have suffered from moderate to severe brain damage that makes reasoning more challenging.
Andy Fung Hong-wang, who earned two 5*s and three grade 4, echoed Lam's sentiments. He said the HKDSE's varied approach gave him more opportunities to pursue his interests in social issues and the humanities.
Yet when it comes to university admissions or entry requirements into higher education, stars might not be enough. Most local tertiary institutions require candidates to have a passing grade in a reasoning-based subject, like mathematics, as a prerequisite for applications.
'A student may perform well in other subjects but still cannot go to university because of a lower grade in a subject like maths,' said principal John Cheung Chi-on. 'Universities should take that into consideration - a student that has above average grades in other subjects but perhaps is unable to get the grades for maths.'
Reporters Dennis Chong, Wong Yat-hei, Jennifer Cheng, Helen Yu, Thomas Chan, Chris Lau, Joyee Chan, Jolie Ho, Lilly Zhang, Michael Au, Emily Ting and Elaine Leung
Photographers Nora Tam, K.Y. Cheng, Felix Wong and May Tse