Applied learning courses helpful
I think applied learning courses can be useful for youngsters. The highest grade obtainable in these courses - 'attained with distinction' - is equivalent to only Level 3 in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education. Most local universities do not recognise the results of applied learning courses, and this has discouraged many students from choosing such programmes.
But we should pay more attention to these courses. They can help students have a better understanding of the career they want to pursue.
Applied learning courses help students develop creative thinking, problem-solving and analytical skills in a real-life working environment. Students from different backgrounds can improve their interpersonal and communication skills.
The government should promote the recognition of these courses.
Jennifer Tsui, Po Leung Kuk Lee Shing Pik College
Key to happiness is in your mind
Everyone wants to be happy. But different people have different ideas about what happiness really is. Some think they will be happy if they have a lot of money. Then there are those who say happiness is all about having a good time.
As for me, happiness is all around us, and attitude is the key to finding it. If a cup is only half full of water, some people will be sad. Others will be happy because they at least have that much of water to drink.
Happiness does not depend on what we have or our experiences. It is all about how we look at things.
There are two sides to everything. For example, we may be upset if we get a poor result in an exam. But, if we think positively, we can see it gives us a chance to learn from our mistakes and do better next time.
We cannot change what has happened, but we can change our attitude. Do not let things control your mind; it should be the other way around.
Some people who have suffered a setback may think life is full of sadness. But, if they don't change their attitude, they will not be able to experience happiness any more.
Is it worth giving up all joy in life because of one setback? No.
Happiness is in the mind. No one and nothing can upset us if we choose to be happy. If we can control our mind, we will discover how wonderful life is.
Liu Yan-woon, YWCA Hioe Tjo Yoeng College
Harbour clean-up worth spending on
The government has worked hard since 2007 to improve the quality of the water in Victoria Harbour.
It aims to reduce bacteria there by 90 per cent by 2014, to help revive the annual cross-harbour swim and other water-based recreational activities. But progress has been far from satisfactory.
The main reasons are the rapid increase in pollution and a lack of funds. There's a huge demand for land in Hong Kong. Reclamation in recent years has made the harbour narrower and smaller. During reclamation, construction materials end up in the harbour, further polluting it.
When allocating funds, the government usually gives priority to improving social welfare, but it does not realise that beautifying Victoria Harbour is also important to Hongkongers. The harbour is not only a major tourist attraction and a key transport hub, but also a part of the city's heritage.
The government should consider developing more efficient methods to clean up the harbour, which will also benefit people's health.
We should protect all our natural resources, including the harbour, for future generations.
Tiffany Yu Yik-tung, Leung Shek Chee College
School activities build friendships
Recently, my school association organised a music competition. I was surprised that about 60 groups took part.
It seems that many of my schoolmates like these kind of activities.
During a music contest, students showcase their talents. And the audience can relax in a fun environment.
When participants prepare for the contest, they practise with their friends, sharing their ups and downs. This helps to strengthen their friendships.
I hope all of you will enjoy your extra-curricular activities in school.