Mailbag

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 November, 2007, 12:00am

Transfer of knowledge between universities and schools should be enhanced

At a symposium on knowledge transfer last week - the first of its kind for local universities and other concerned sectors like industry and commerce - speakers told many success stories about how such transfers can benefit the larger community, technologically and economically.

This illustrated the role of higher education institutions in the betterment of communities by transferring their research findings to commerce, industry and other sectors for profitable or productive applications.

Although nearly all of the stories focused, quite naturally, on technology transfer in the economic sector, quite a few touched on other domains, such as the arts and humanities, giving the concept of transfer a richer and broader sense. However, education, being a domain where such transfers can and should happen frequently, was not covered in the talks.

This was disappointing, especially when viewed against the background of the transition to the new 3+3+4 academic structure.

Knowledge transfer can contribute much to the partnership between universities and schools in the business of educating our young. Being much stronger in knowledge development and transfer, universities are well placed to provide assistance to schools by gearing more of their educational research to school practice with a view to informing it so that desired outcomes of the current education reform - for instance, students' critical thinking and problem-solving capacities - can be better achieved.

Schools can surely utilise more of the new ideas and methodologies developed by local universities.

On the other hand, schools can help universities by providing much-needed testing grounds, or fields to try out new educational technologies or carry out appropriate research. It is potentially a win-win situation.

There are numerous areas for collaboration between the two sectors. One example is the education of the gifted, or that of the unmotivated. Another is outcome-based education.

As universities themselves embark on outcome-based teaching and learning - a model which is on a lesser scale pursued by schools as well - their experience and insights into this new pedagogical approach can also be transferred to schools through dissemination of research findings or training programmes so that the latter can be helped to do a better job in preparing students for higher education.

The inter-connectivity and interdependence between the universities and schools should be better recognised and enhanced. Knowledge transfer may be one way to do it.

ROBIN CHEUNG,

Principal of Tsung Tsin College

Associate degrees given an unfair appraisal

Annie Nip's letter about associate degrees ('Associate degrees not up to scratch, Education Post, November 17) made some rather sweeping statements about their quality and acceptance by universities.

Far from there being 'no quality control system in place for associate degree programmes', there are strict internal and external quality control mechanisms in place at Community College of City University (CCCU).

Internally, the senate of City University monitors the quality of our programmes, while externally the CCCU comes under the scrutiny of the Joint Quality Review Committee under the Heads of Universities Committee.

Second, it is certainly an over-generalisation to state that 'the colleges never obey the Education Bureau's regulations'.

At CCCU we follow strictly the admission requirements set by the bureau. Earlier this month, Education Bureau statistics on student admissions revealed that, far from being lax, CCCU shares first place with only one other institution in the strictness of its vetting procedures in student admissions.

It is just plain wrong to say that 'students cannot further their studies after two years'. At CCCU, we made it our mission to seek out opportunities for our graduates. A survey of about 2,300 graduates from CCCU last year showed that more than 60 per cent pursued further studies.

With the kind of quality that CCCU offers in our associate degrees, to do away with them would be to deny to thousands of eligible Hong Kong youngsters their right to a quality tertiary education.

EDMAND WONG,

College Secretary,

Community College of City University

Language is for communication

I would like to respond to the letter from Isabel Chang entitled 'Putonghua an effective way to learn Chinese' (Education Post, November 17).

Miss Chang said students' written Chinese would be improved by teaching it in Putonghua because the written format is similar to the oral style of Putonghua. She added that the standard of our Chinese language is dwindling as 'it is obvious to me that the 'oral writing style' of Cantonese in magazines and on MSN has triggered this'.'

Language, after all, is for communication. If readers of local magazines can understand the oral style of writing, then the very purpose of communication is achieved.

On the other hand, most Hongkongers will not adopt the oral style in MSN if it is not acceptable and efficient. Language is not a monolith.

Many language conventions nowadays were regarded as improper or wrong in the past. If Chinese had not responded to one of the calls in the New Culture Movement (1917-1923) to write in vernacular Chinese instead of classical Chinese, the divergence between the oral and written form, no matter in Putonghua or Cantonese, would have been even greater.

The proper attitude to changes in language is to be open-minded and willing to accept them when there is a substantial consensus in the community.

To respond to Miss Chang's praise of Putonghua for its written and oral forms being similar, isn't it a good sign that Cantonese in Hong Kong is getting closer to such an alignment?

WILSON SIU,

Prince Edward