Cramming culture hurts students

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 May, 2013, 2:56am

S. Chiu hit the nail on the head when she questioned the mentality of the education authority in her letter ("Let children learn to enjoy education", May 24).

I can only guess at the mentality of education officials.

Vanity over high standards of academic achievement could be a reason. Usually, comparing results with other cities relates to the top percentile of each city. The rest of the student population becomes collateral damage.

The majority of parents I know still equate exam results with learning. Unfortunately, the Education Bureau holds the same view. This helps to exacerbate paranoia, which puts more pressure on children.

I wonder if this is due to ignorance. I agree with radio talk host To Kit's claim that policies in local schools are not guided by principles of psychology. It is cruel to give a nine-year-old 11 assignments.

When officials consider education policies, do they take into consideration that children are not born the same?

Late bloomers have little chance to survive the system. By the time they have reached their potential, the chances are they will have already lost interest in school. This is a common phenomenon in non-band-one schools.

It is widely known that some children of senior education officials do not attend local schools. This is like a salesman selling a product he doesn't believe in.

How can Hong Kong citizens be convinced that we have a good school system unless the policymakers send their own children and grandchildren to local schools?

The system has been criticised for being designed in such a way that the majority of students will fail. They will have no chance of landing those well-paid jobs in the finance sector - the mainstay of the Hong Kong economy.

I have talked to many men and women in their 30s in cafes in the International Finance Centre over the past three years. They were locals who spoke fluent English, and many had moved to the US. Only two completed Form Four in Hong Kong.

It would be far-fetched to suggest a conspiracy theory against the education authority based on such a small sample. But the fact remains that well-paying jobs in pleasant offices are more accessible to those privileged enough to have escaped the local school system.

A Form Five student, Claire Leung, wrote to these columns in January asking why we could not learn from Finland's education system where they get results without cramming. I think she deserves a response from the Education Bureau.

Tony Yuen, Mid-Levels