Parents back schooling plan: survey

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 June, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 June, 2000, 12:00am

Nearly 70 per cent of parents support the 'through-train' schooling proposed by the Education Commission and will not move to districts where elite schools are located, according to a survey released yesterday.

Under the 'through-train' arrangement, children pass automatically from primary school to a linked secondary school without having to pass examinations. Parents said they supported the concept on the grounds that they would have less trouble finding places for their children. Exam pressure would be relieved, they said.

Although, children are likely to be allocated to schools depending on where they live, 68.4 per cent of parents said they would not move to areas where 'through-train' prestigious schools were located. The survey, conducted by the Social Science and Education Research Panel at Chinese University, interviewed 508 parents.

Fanny Cheung Mui-ching of the department of psychology, and the research convenor, said the results were encouraging. 'There were lots of media reports about parents moving to other school catchment areas to scramble for places at elite schools. There is also a presumption that many parents demand more examinations and classwork for their kids. Our findings prove just the opposite,' said Professor Cheung, former chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission.

About 30 per cent of respondents disagreed with the arrangement, fearing that there would be less competitive pressure and fewer choices of school.

Three-quarters of parents said their primary consideration in selecting schools was a 'virtuous pro-learning environment'. Only 15.7 per cent said they valued prestigious schools.

Teachers' qualifications were ranked the most important element to improve quality of education, with 66.9 per cent choosing that item. About 60 per cent opted for teachers who were 'encouraging and able to discover students' creativity' as the most important.

Professor Cheung said: 'We hope the Education Commission will ascertain that parents value teaching quality and are not only concerned about examination results.' Just under 60 per cent of respondents regarded improving English proficiency as the most important element. Advocating mother-tongue teaching got the lowest rating, chosen by only about 20 per cent of parents.

The Curriculum Development Council yesterday passed a paper on information technology education, setting out the five-stage learning targets to be achieved from Primary One to Form Seven. Students are expected to grasp basic skills of IT by Form Three and be able to utilise the technology in learning other subjects. All primary and secondary schools will have installed Internet networks by September. The council will release a report on curriculum reform in November.