PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 December, 2010, 12:00am

Teachers need experience in their subjects

I am a secondary school teacher and believe that with the implementation of the '3+3+4' system in schools, we need to equip our teachers with real-life business working experience. This has to be done outside the education field to improve their teaching and administration skills.

There should be a placement programme in the business or social services sector for a few months. This will enable teachers to learn administration skills in the business world and practical working experience which they can share with students. This will give teachers a chance to match knowledge of their subject with practical know-how. School teachers mix in a small circle. They study in an educational institution, attend professional development workshops with other teachers and spend most of their time working in their own school.

When students ask teachers about their working experience or seek guidance when selecting a university programme, teachers need to think back many years to when they graduated.

Integrating real-life working or living experience lessons is in line with the spirit of the new senior secondary reform. But business teachers, when asked about the working environment in the business world, can only refer to their experiences of decades ago. This does not help students and it is why teachers need to join a placement programme as part of their professional development. English teachers could work in multinational companies or in the media. Counselling teachers could work with social workers in the Social Welfare Department. Business teachers could be seconded to companies. This would help them to understand the expectations employers have of teenagers joining the workplace.

If they worked at middle management level, teachers could sharpen their administrative, financial and management knowledge. With classes being cut, some of them fear for their future and that they will not find a job if they are made redundant by their school. This work experience programme may help them to position themselves in the labour market and find work in another sector.

Stefan Lam Kit-yung, Tuen Mun

Small classes confirm study

As principal of a mainstream primary school in Hong Kong (Harbour School) committed to maintaining small classes, I was fascinated to read about Gary Harfitt's recent study ('Small classes promote best practices, study finds', December 3) illustrating the benefits of small classes on learning.

Since we opened our doors to students in the autumn of 2007, we have maintained an in-class ratio of one teacher per six students.

In this setting, we find students to be more motivated, engaged, and industrious. In a small class, they are known and understood as individuals rather than as one out of a crowd of 30 or 40 children with whom many teachers in other schools must contend. Our teachers understand their students' specific interests, talents and learning styles.

We invite Mr Harfitt and other Hong Kong educators to visit us to see first-hand the many academic and emotional benefits children experience in small-class educational environments.

Jadis Blurton, principal The Harbour School

Cheaper than redundancies

I think small-class teaching enables pupils to be more actively involved and allows teachers to build a bond with their students.

The teacher has more time to check if all the students have understood a lesson. More time can be spent with pupils who are struggling with their studies.

Because of falling birth rates there are fewer Form One students. More schools face closure and many teachers could be made redundant.

The government should recognise this is a serious problem and introduce small-class teaching. If it fails to act it will face a hefty bill in the form of unemployment benefits.

Rosenna Tse Ting-shan, Tuen Mun

Progress has cost HK its soul

I first visited Hong Kong in 1967, when I was just 21. I arrived on a freighter after a month's voyage from San Francisco.

I will never forget how excited I was when we entered Victoria Harbour - graceful junks under sail; sampans darting here and there; Star ferries hooting their way across the water, and freighters lying at anchor waiting to be unloaded. It was lively and beautiful, and the essence of Hong Kong. In a word, magic.

I returned to Hong Kong in 2008 to find the harbour and the waterfront of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon unrecognisable.

The Peninsula Hotel, which I could see from the water in 1967, was buried behind other buildings. Where was the magic? Even riding the Star Ferry from Central to Kowloon lacked the excitement of my previous crossings.

Change - progress - is inevitable, but when the heart and soul of a place is lost, one wonders if the changes, the so-called progress, are worth it.

Robin Mitchell, San Francisco, US

Warning we can no longer ignore

I am concerned that we are now experiencing warmer winters in Hong Kong.

Christmas is coming and yet most days it does not really feel like December.

Even though Hong Kong has always had a warm climate you used to get the feeling that winter had really arrived.

Clearly what is happening is due to global warming.

By 2030 Hong Kong's winter may have disappeared.

When scientists describe a doomsday scenario for global warming they are not making it up. And yet I find that many of my friends - and, I believe, most Hong Kong citizens - do not care about these problems.

We are like a car approaching a cliff. If we do not start making changes now, we risk falling over the edge.

Sally Lee Hei-ming, Yau Ma Tei

Walk spoiled by fouled footpaths

On weekdays, I usually walk from my home at Fullview Garden, Siu Sai Wan to the nearby bus terminus at Island Resort to take a bus to work in the morning.

This should be an enjoyable walk, with a pleasant breeze and the sound of birdsong.

Instead you spend your time trying to avoid the dog excrement that has been left on the pavement.

A complaint was made to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department. A team was dispatched to wash the pavement, but it returned to its disgusting state after a day or two.

I am not blaming the dogs, but their irresponsible owners who enjoy their own rights but ignore the rights of others to a clean and sanitary environment.

I condemn those who take the law into their own hands, such as the Bowen Road poisoner. All I want is for the department to take regular enforcement action against irresponsible dog owners and their helpers, not just a one-off token clean-up.

The worst areas are Fullview Garden up to the Siu Sai Wan stadium and the footbridge from Fullview Garden shopping arcade to Cheerful Garden.

The problem of dog fouling can only be solved when officials are willing to prosecute individuals.

Albert Poon, Siu Sai Wan

Youths spend all their earnings

Many young people in Hong Kong and on the mainland spend all that they earn every month.

If they continue to do this then they will develop bad spending habits and will not have saved enough for their retirement.

However, I can understand why young people hold such opinions. They see a future that is full of uncertainty. People save money so they can enjoy a good life in the future, but they need to know their money is secure.

On the mainland there are no effective laws to protect people's property rights, or the laws that do exist are often ignored.

This can lead to people losing their homes so new developments can be built and farmers finding their crops ruined by pollutants from factories.

Some individuals would argue that no matter how much they saved to say buy a house, they could lose everything and get no compensation.

Even in Hong Kong some property owners make similar arguments.

For example, villagers in Tsoi Yuen Tsuen who are being moved to make way for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong express rail link have complained about levels of compensation.

Under these circumstances I can understand why some people ask why they should save money.

Ngo Yu-ki, Tsuen Wan

Put traffic police on minibuses

I agree with the comments made by M. Murdoch ('Put the brake on minibus speeds', December 6).

While I concur with his recommendations I would also like to make a suggestion.

Would it not make sense for plain-clothes police officers to travel on minibuses, and book any drivers who exceed the speed limit?

If plain clothes officials can arrest litterers, smokers and dog owners who allow their pets to foul walkways, then why can't the same be done for reckless minibus drivers?

Such enforcement would not require a large force; probably just a handful of officers just to start off with.

Once a few summonses have been issued, I'm sure the drivers will be more considerate with the understanding that there may be someone on their bus monitoring them.

Could the police (chief superintendent of police, traffic division) comment on the feasibility of such a scheme?

M. Kennedy, Sai Kung