Problem schools survey backlash
By SHIRLEY KWOK
PRE-VOCATIONAL schools have dismissed criticism that their students had more behavioural problems than students attending grammar schools.
This followed the release by the Education Department of results of a survey into student behaviour. The schools claimed they were being discriminated against, with the department exaggerating the ''problem''.
The survey took in 115 grammar schools, 11 technical institutions and 11 pre-vocational schools during the 1990-91 school year. It reported that the crime rate in pre-vocational schools was six times higher than in grammar schools.
The survey studied more than 100,000 cases involving 52,000 students. Ninety per cent of the cases dealt with breaking school regulations, such as failure to do homework and being absent from lessons. The remainder were criminal acts such as assault, gambling and extortion.
But some headmasters have questioned the reliability of the survey.
Mr Sheung Kwok-chu, principal of Po Leung Kuk C.W. Chu Prevocational School, said the problem had been blown out of proportion.
''Behavioural problems are common in many schools, whether they are grammar or pre-vocational,'' said Mr Sheung, who is chairman of the Hongkong Association for School Discipline and Counselling Teachers.
''The seriousness of the problem is related more to the school's location rather than the status of the school.
''Students attending schools in a high-crime area will be affected by the poor studying environment and this may be reflected in their behaviour.'' Mr Lau Yiu-fai, principal of Hongkong Weaving Mills Association Chu Shek Lun Prevocational School, said the parents' perceptions of schools was a factor in the students' behaviour.
''Many parents believe that pre-vocational schools are only for poor performers,'' he said. ''This lowers morale and enthusiasm for learning.
''Students then resort to breaking rules in order to gain attention.'' Mr Lau urged the Government and parents to correct such misconceptions rather than exaggerating the so-called differences between pre-vocational and grammar schools.