Revealed: solution that baffled education chief

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 January, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 January, 2000, 12:00am

Officials disclosed yesterday the answer to the test for 11-year-olds that even stumped education chief Joseph Wong Wing-ping.

Mr Wong, Secretary for Education and Manpower, admitted on Monday he was baffled by a multiple choice question in the controversial aptitude test for Primary Six pupils.

It asked: 'Why doesn't schoolboy Siu Ming wake up when his alarm clock goes off?' The choices of answer were: 1) The buzzing is too soft. 2) The alarm clock is broken. 3) It is his holiday. 4) Siu Ming ignores the buzz, or 5) Siu Ming is sound asleep.

A spokeswoman for the Education Department, which on Monday said it was unable to say which one was correct, announced yesterday that the answer was number four.

Explaining the rationale, Director for Education Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun said on a radio talk show: 'The answer is the only possible one.

'The others are only hypothetical. The alarm clock would not be buzzing if it was broken and Siu ming would not have set the alarm if he was on holiday.' She did not explain why the other two answers were incorrect but on a general note said: 'The question seeks to test students' reasoning power.' The question was discussed at a regular meeting between Mr Wong and members of his bureau's advisory body, the Education Commission.

Measures to replace the 22-year-old test are expected to be drafted by a working group under the Education Commission by April.

Other examples of questions posed in the test, set by teachers and changed every year are: 1. Which is the odd one out: An orange, an apple, a banana, a watermelon, and a pear? 2. What is the implication of the sentence 'A boat is sailing along the shoreline?' a. This person is going abroad; b. This person is taking life step by step; c. This is a conservative person; d. This person tends to rely on others; e. This person is following rules.

Answers: 1. A banana. 2. b.