Too much emphasis on exams

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 December, 2012, 5:11am

There have been a number of disturbing incidents of animal cruelty. In some cases teenagers have allegedly been involved.

Where young people are involved it raises the question of what is wrong with today's juveniles in Hong Kong.

Should we blame their parents if they act in this way or is it the education system that is at fault? I think both parents and schools have to take responsibility for developing the right value systems in teenagers.

One of the problems here is that we have an examination-oriented education system. Emphasis is placed on getting good results and moral education is seen as being less important.

The whole set-up makes academic results so important. How students perform in exams can determine their future in society and can influence the banding given to a school.

How many of our schools follow the principle of teaching all those who come through their doors "without discrimination"? This should be the central principle of education, but how many schools actually put it into practice?

Society as a whole places too much emphasis on the results in exams. Consequently, the outstanding pupils enjoy the limelight; they are seen as winners. Those young people who are not academically gifted and do not perform well in class are left behind. They are often stigmatised as being losers and become isolated.

Without care being shown to them and if they are not given sound moral education, some may turn to abusing those who are weaker than them, such as animals. It gives them a feeling of power and success that they are deprived of elsewhere in society. They feel that it proves they are not losers.

Some of these young people may also lack a moral compass at home if parents do not show sufficient care. Proper parental care is a crucial part of a child's development. Some parents wrongly think that it is the school's responsibility to instil the right values, but this is not the case. They fail to realise that their children also need their love, care and moral guidance.

Teens who feel alienated in a home environment may fall in with bad company and imitate the behaviour of dysfunctional peers. Parents are indispensable learning models and their attitudes and value systems have a deep impression on their sons and daughters. Parents need to appreciate that and schools also have to accept the need for formal moral learning to help young people acquire the correct values.

All stakeholders have to co-operate - schools, parents, government and society as a whole - to help guide our youngsters in the right direction.

Cathy Wong, Sau Mau Ping