Sex is more than an act of sensual pleasure
I refer to the articles in Education Post (June 17) on growing sex harassment and advocating sex education in schools.
Educating our young people on the 'facts of life' with a focus on the use of contraception presents a warped view of a beautiful and life-giving human act. We are saying to our young people, 'get smart and you can avoid being caught between life [babies] and death [diseases].'
It is reducing sex to a mere act of sensual pleasure, as if contraception is the only responsible choice, that relationship, commitment, respect can be dispensed with, and the giving of life something to be avoided. If this is the attitude we are reinforcing in our young people through our education system, we should not be surprised if the divorce rate continues to rise, or the birth rate declines.
Education about sex and relationships belongs in the context of a general character education. We in Hong Kong should be grateful that we still have religious bodies, committed to the cultivating of basic human values, acting as substantial sponsors of education.
There is a strong trend in many countries promoting abstinence/chastity programmes. A Harris Poll reported in The Washington Times in January showed that young people were substantially in support of abstinence education. In the US where the contraceptive approach now has robust competition from abstinence education, statistics show significant decline in teen pregnancy and teen sex (Source: The National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy). A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health last year also showed definitive positive results of an abstinence programme which was available in cultures as diverse as Switzerland, Chile and Korea.
We should not naively hold on to a view that more contraception-based 'sex education' is the penicillin. Achieving emotional maturity is imperative for young people to experience love in a truly human way, and this requires the committed work of parents, first and foremost.
Small classes will be better and costlier
Should small-class teaching be implemented in all primary and secondary schools?
What does small class mean? A small number of students learning at the same level in one class, receiving education appropriate to their abilities.
Today, Hong Kong students have to do lots of homework and projects. They have to absorb lots of knowledge in a short period of time. Some may not understand the lessons because they are not up to the level of their classmates - a teacher will not teach individually if only one student does not understand. They don't have fun in the classroom.
Small-class teaching offers many advantages. Firstly, the teacher can spend more time with each student. Teachers can hold more activities to help the students to understand the knowledge in a fun way.
Secondly, the workload for the teacher will also decrease and they will have less pressure. In addition, the school can recruit more teachers and this will increase the employment rate in Hong Kong.
But there are disadvantages too.
School expenditure would increase. By implementing small-class teaching, more classrooms and facilities would be required. As a result, funding for education would need to rise.
I am in favour of the new education system. Today's children are the foundation of future society. If we do not give them the best education, how can the society improve?
If the government cannot make the decision immediately, they can implement small-class teaching in several schools as a trial.
CHRISTY LAU TUNG-TUNG,
Our Lady of the Rosary College
Aspiring politicians, lawyers or journalists
There are three professions that would fit the bill in Professor Robert Shiller's 'Picking a winner in the future jobs market' (South China Morning Post, May 27).
Professor Shiller advised students that 'the most promising future careers will be those grounded in either expert thinking - how to deal with new problems - or complex communication skills, that is, understanding ideas, how to evaluate their social significance, and how to persuade'.
These professions seem to be a politician, a lawyer or a journalist.
All three are pillars of a free society.
However, I would advise students against choosing politics for their studies if they lack patience for compromise; law if they indulge in compromise; or journalism if they lack curiosity.
If the student is only concerned with what job he will get in the future, then the student will fail (by being marginalised by experts) and fail society too (by wasting precious education funds).
No part in design of language test
Francis Wann has the wrong man in 'Language test for teachers a failure' (Education Post, June 24).
I have had to confess to many sins in my time but I can deny any involvement in the design of the Language Proficiency Assessment for Teachers.
DR PHILIP HOARE,
Department of English,
Hong Kong Institute of Education