THERE has been a great deal of discussion, of late, regarding the suggestion that Putonghua be made a compulsory subject in Hong Kong's schools.
I support this proposal.
Those who are against it say it would be difficult to re-schedule timetables and hard to recruit the large number of Putonghua teachers needed to implement such a scheme.
They want the subject to remain optional.
Their arguments just sound to me like excuses.
Obviously, the Education Department should be given time to prepare for the introduction of compulsory lessons.
Besides, with Hong Kong being an international centre, it is important for us to have more people who are proficient in Mandarin.
As the style and writing method in Mandarin is the same as in Cantonese, these classes will enhance students' Chinese writing skills.
They will give students a chance to learn one more spoken language, in addition to English and Cantonese and this will improve their chances of getting a job when they leave school.
Opponents argue that many students turned against learning English, because lessons were compulsory and the same thing would happen with Putonghua. However, as a language it is much closer to Cantonese than English.
The fact is that Hong Kong needs all the talented people it can get.
It is an economic success story and next to a country, China, where the economy is booming.
We have a good trading relationship with China and our economic success and that good relationship, must be maintained.
We therefore need an increasing number of young people who can communicate with the Chinese on the mainland.
Students will benefit, because by learning a new language, they will expand their knowledge and broaden their horizons. They may even, one day, be able to work on the mainland.
So, in effect, through compulsory Putonghua, students will benefit and, in the long term, so will society.
So, why does the Hong Kong Government not approve this suggestion and put it into practice? AMY LI Kwai Chung