Plan to ease workload could be sped up
The Education Bureau has suggested that to ease the workload of teachers and pupils under the new senior secondary curriculum, it could bring forward a plan to cut down the amount of assessment in liberal studies.
Teachers have often raised concerns that liberal studies is too broad, and the marking burden heavy.
Liberal studies became a compulsory subject for upper secondary pupils, along with Chinese, maths and English, as part of educational reforms in government-run and funded secondary schools at the start of the 2009-10 academic year.
In liberal studies, 20 per cent of a student's mark is from school-based assessment. As part of the assessment, pupils have an 'independent enquiry study' report marked six times, for each module involved. They have to complete it before the end of S6, also known as Form Six.
The bureau's original streamlining proposal was to cut the number of markings from six to four by 2014. But before the Lunar New Year the bureau and the Examinations and Assessment Authority asked schools for their views on bringing the change forward to next year instead.
There is a similar proposal to streamline marking for the subject of Chinese language.
Jacob Hui Shing-yan, Liberal Studies Teachers' Association president, welcomed the proposal. But he doubted whether it would be enough to resolve the burning issue of workload. 'The problem is there is too much content for the subject, too many key areas,' he said.
'There is some overlap in learning areas: for example, the issue of identity covered in module two [Hong Kong today] is also covered in the module on personal development and interpersonal relationships.'
Teacher Karen Li Oi-wan said the past three years of teaching the subject had been disastrous. 'We are seriously short of teaching hours,' she said. 'Teachers are heavily strained by the need to come to grips with the six modules; it takes a lot of work to understand topics less familiar to them, such as 'modern China' and 'globalisation'. They are even more exhausted following up on students' work for the independent enquiry study [report].'
Hui said he wanted a review of the liberal studies assessment method once the results of the subject's exam, scheduled for early April, were out.
But he was not worried about how the pupils would perform. 'They have done practice papers and are familiar with the format and content,' he said. 'They are used to making judgments and seeing things from different perspectives.'