Computer study policy attacked

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 July, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 July, 1996, 12:00am

Computer education in Hong Kong is lagging behind our Asian competitors, and there is a strong need for a comprehensive computer training plan, a recent study revealed.

The findings from a study on the 'Internet and Young People' showed that the computer facilities in the educational system were inadequate to cope with the rapid development of technology, and that secondary school syllabuses on computer studies failed to provide students with the knowledge of computer applications needed for employment.

Experts pointed out that computer hardware at schools was not up to standard for Internet or multimedia usage, and Chinese educational software was hardly adequate.

Many schools did not have enough phone jacks for modem connections, which affected the efficiency in computer teaching, demonstration and practices at school.

The study, conducted by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups in May, collected opinions from computer teachers and experts, Internet service providers and users, and tested 546 youngsters aged 15 to 29 on their level of computer literacy.

The report suggested that Hong Kong lagged behind Taiwan and Singapore on education in computer application.

'In order to respond to the rapidly developing information and computer technology, it is obvious that the Hong Kong Government needs to put more emphasis on education for computer application in secondary schools,' the report said.

The Federation also found that complex issues related to the Internet - such as the balance between freedom of expression and information, and the protection of morals and young people - were not adequately addressed.

The report suggested that additional resources be allocated on training, and a comprehensive plan on manpower training for the next decade be drawn up.

Over 63 per cent of the young people rated their computer literacy below average, and over six per cent of them admitted that they had zero knowledge of cyberspace.

The report also revealed that most young people tended to acquire their computer knowledge by themselves rather than from school.

Less than 30 per cent of the respondents said they obtained their computer knowledge from teachers at school, while over half of them learnt from newspapers, magazines, friends, colleagues or through in-service practice.

Parents, however, were found to possess no computer knowledge to monitor young people's use of computer services.

'Parents are evidently aware of the importance of computer knowledge for their children's future and are willing to spend money on computers.

'Yet, with no computer knowledge themselves, parents are unable to monitor how their children use computers or access the Internet,' the report said.

'The Government should consider public education to alert the public as well as incorporating consciousness-raising training in secondary school computer education.'