Q Should parents of associate degree students get tax breaks?
After taking two tough public examinations, every student dreams of going to university. Associate degree programmes, although extremely expensive, give hope to a lot of students.
Their parents should get tax breaks.
The government has long been wanting to raise the overall academic standard in Hong Kong. Giving financial support to parents would help.
According to official data, the number of students who meet the minimum requirements for entry to university has risen from 22 to 66 per cent.
Students should not be denied a chance to advance only because their parents do not have the financial means.
Also, it is important to increase the number of degree programme vacancies for capable associate degree students.
Many students see associate degree programmes as the springboard to university, and they should not be disappointed if they have worked hard.
Cherie Ng, Tsuen Wan
Q Should phones and PDAs be banned from exams?
It's obvious they need to be banned, but it's difficult for schools to make sure students aren't in possession of these devices during examinations.
It would be unethical for schools to search students' bags for phones. The best way to ensure students don't use their phones to cheat is to not even allow students to go to the bathroom during the examination. It isn't unusual for schools to do this - in fact, it is very common.
Students should take responsibility to go to the bathroom before the examination.
Also, students shouldn't be allowed anything on the desk but what they need: a pencil and eraser. These are the kinds of measures that will nullify the amount of cheating going on.
However, it would be ideal if students didn't have to have all these security measures to keep them honest. Schools should have some code of honour to encourage integrity among students. This ideal could be hard to reach, but if the authority and schools push hard enough, we could get there.
Bianca Lo, Mid-Levels
This year, I was sitting for English Syllabus B. So I am extremely concerned about mobile phone cheating.
However, I don't think there should be a ban on phones and PDAs. If students plan to cheat, they can find other means.
It is impossible for exam supervisors to frisk students, as they are not policemen. Moreover, students have the right to refuse. It would make all students look like suspects.
All the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority has to do is change some letters or a few words in the resource websites and students would not be able to access the Web to cheat.
Whether the allegation is substantiated or not, the exam board should conduct a full investigation. The scandal has again exposed loopholes in exam procedures.
It's time for the authorities to conduct a full review and close the loopholes in public exams.
Don't just put the blame on students. If there is no wind, there are no waves in the sea.
Raymond Wong, Kwai Chung
On other matters...
I am appalled that the Hospital Authority is prepared to use a staggering $1.9 billion (and this is merely the budget for the first phase) to rebuild the Prince of Wales Hospital, in particular as the hospital has merely been in use for 22 years, a comparatively short period compared with the age of many other major hospitals in the city.
Wouldn't it be better to renovate and expand the hospital instead?
To rebuild the entire hospital will set a bad precedent for the future planning of public facilities and their maintenance, and may encourage a culture of thriftlessness within the government and other statutory bodies.
Besides, have the government and the Hospital Authority investigated whether or not some of the woes that beset the hospital are a result of improper planning and inept management?
If there are other such causes, and they are allowed to remain, a total replacement of the hardware will hardly solve existing problems.
Jennifer Wong, Kowloon Tong
A few years ago, before ear-candle therapy was well known, a tourist approached me for directions for the treatment. I asked her, what is this treatment? She said for the removal of ear wax.
I told her it was nonsense. How can you remove the wax by fooling around with more wax.
I suggested a better treatment. I told her when she shampoos her hair to let the lather of the shampoo go into her ears. Scratch your ears gently and let the water and shampoo flow out from your ears as you wash your hair.
After you have dried yourself, take some toilet tissue, roll it up like a cigarette and clean your ears. Ear tabs are a good alternative but with tissue paper you can be more vigorous and there is less risk of eardrum damage.
The lady sent me a nice postcard thanking me for the therapy.
Your readers too may try this therapy. If they find it useful, they are welcome to contribute to the cause of the deaf and dumb people in Hong Kong instead of spending money on expensive therapies.
Nalini Daswani, New York, USA