New look for schools plan
By BERYL COOK
A STEP-BY-STEP ''cookbook'' to a new scheme helping parents, teachers and students to tackle drug abuse, gangs and suicide is being issued by the Education Department.
The department has also issued 2,800 Understanding Student Suicide kits to 1,400 primary and secondary schools, and is lining up doctors and psychologists to talk to students.
The Assistant Director of Education (Services Division), Mrs Grace Yung Leung Yan-mei, said guidelines for the new Whole School Approach to Guidance would be issued to public schools within the next three months.
Guidance had tended to concentrate on individual students but the new approach would tackle group problems. Parents, students, and staff would design and implement programmes to address problems specific to their school.
Mrs Yung said the approach would ''cultivate the self-esteem of students who help and those who are helped, making them less likely to turn to other substances or undesirable characters because they feel insecure, unsuccessful or lonely''.
She said the guidelines would provide a ''step-by-step cookbook'' including case studies.
About $1 million had been allocated to the 380 government and aided secondary schools for the new approach, and $1,000 had been allocated for each government and aided primary school with a student guidance teacher.
Twenty-seven more student guidance teachers had been appointed to cover 108 primary aided schools, and they could use the $1,000 as well as government assistance such as printing services.
The department supplied some schools with student guidance officers who could use departmental facilities and funds directly.
Mrs Yung said one case study was a primary school which had paired senior students with junior students to encourage them to complete and submit homework. Both students received incentives for achievement, and developed a sense of responsibility, pride and achievement.
A similar approach could be employed by secondary schools with drug abuse or gang problems.
About 800 of the 70-page Understanding Student Suicide kits have been issued to representatives of the 400 secondary schools.
Another 2,000 simplified kits have been issued to 1,000 primary schools.
The kits include advice on detecting warning signs, causes of anxiety, prevention programmes, problem-solving, helping students who attempted suicide re-enter school, operational procedure and advice encouraging schools to set up crisis management teams.
Mrs Yung said the Hongkong Medical Association had approached the department in November to offer medical practitioners' help.
The department hoped doctors and psychologists would start to talk on problems such as anxiety and mental stress in schools before the May exams.