Kindergartens criticised over tests, rote learning

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 March, 2007, 12:00am

Paper tests and rote learning remain common in kindergartens despite government attempts to promote less intensive teaching methods, inspection reports released yesterday show.

Many kindergartens were taken to task for teaching children to write too early, while at least two were criticised for relying on 'robotic' writing exercises.

The reports, posted on the Education and Manpower Bureau website yesterday, were from quality assurance inspections carried out on 35 kindergartens in October and November 2005 and between February and June last year.

But although the reports took a predominantly positive tone, nearly half of the kindergartens were criticised for placing too much emphasis on writing exercises. Some were told their assessments were excessive, repetitive or placed 'unnecessary pressure' on students.

Professional Teachers' Union spokeswoman on early childhood education Yung Hau-heung said parents had very high expectations of their children. 'This is especially the case nowadays because couples are having fewer children,' she said.

The need to prepare children for a difficult syllabus in Primary One also explained the prevalence of pen-and-paper tests, she said.

Alex Cheung Chi-hung, chairman of the Aided Primary Schools Heads' Council, admitted some primary schools were interested in recruiting students with a solid academic base, but stressed it was important for kindergarten children to be inspired and to learn to express themselves.