Letters to the Editor, September 25, 2013
Schools should change with the times
I disagree with the arguments put forward by Joyce Hui Hiu-ting ("Schools help make students competitive", September 17).
To be competitive in society is not only about excelling in languages, but about self-learning, being creative and having the ability to observe.
Our society has changed. In the past, a university degree was a guarantee to a better life. Today, except for a few professional occupations, it has been devalued. Schools prepare students for the Diploma of Secondary Education, but not for the complex environment they will face. They are also challenged by the influx of mainland students, many of whom have a sound knowledge of politics, economics, science and even philosophy.
Teachers here continue with a rigid method, sticking to grammar and sentence structure. Youngsters do exercises where they memorise material and feel they have wasted their time.
Only a few teachers will introduce new vocabulary through, for example, getting the class to read news articles which helps to expand their knowledge of current affairs.
Sir Kenneth Robinson, a British educationalist, has talked about the unpredictability of knowledge. Our schools are still just trying to train students to be exam machines, while mainland students have a bigger, global vision. Our young people are not being taught self-motivation.
If this does not change and we do not learn to adapt, we will lose the advantages we enjoy and no longer be competitive.
Josh Sin Long-hin, Tuen Mun
Students must not overdo tutorial classes
I partly agree with Catherine Chan Hoi-ying about the benefits of tutorial lessons ("Tutorial classes make a difference", September 18).
I think students have to strike the right balance between their work in school and the tutorial colleges they attend.
There is no doubt that Diploma of Secondary Education students face a major challenge with this public exam, partly because it is still relatively new.
As one of those students who will sit the diploma in 2014, I have found that there is a lack of resources, which makes preparation difficult.
Many classmates share my concerns and have opted for tutorial courses. They are able to take additional notes and get exam tips. But this can mean that, during the day at school, they fall asleep in lessons.
They wrongly see these courses as being a guarantee of success in exams.
However, I think it is more important to be able to make a realistic assessment of your own abilities and ask yourself when studying a subject if you really understand the concepts. If you are too tired at school, you will not be able to concentrate properly.
I am not denying the benefits of tutorial classes.
What is important is for young people to strike the right balance so they can still pay attention and learn in school.
Dorothy Poon Fung-king,Wong Tai Sin
Is 'Catalan Way' an option for 2017?
Earlier this month, I watched news reports on Hong Kong television channels of the impressive "Via Catalana", the Catalan Way for the independence of Catalonia.
Beyond all expectations, [an estimated] 1.6 million people came together to form a human chain 400 kilometres long.
This is the second time that a human chain of these proportions has been successfully organised, after the amazing Baltic Way at the end of the Soviet era in 1989.
Since then, some people, Chinese and non-Chinese, have asked me about it, about Catalonia and about its will for independence, of which they had no clear idea before. They asked if it was economically sustainable and what would happen to Spain without Catalonia. They are not much different from the questions that we Catalans are asking.
Obviously, the difference is that we have a 300-year-old dream, and more of us have been embracing it in the past few years.
I wonder if a "Hong Kong Way" would be a tool for universal suffrage and democracy in 2017.
The experience in Catalonia is that the human chain has been a means to express a peaceful attitude to obtain a collective objective. It is a message of firm civility against the imposition of violence. It is also an act with a powerful visual impact but, more importantly, a way to unite people from all walks of life around a common objective.
A Hong Kong Way would be a big step forward and a true exercise of social organisation for the future acts that democracy will require when it finally arrives.
Jose Manuel Sevilla Pacho, Pok Fu Lam
Mongolian trip proves we are all the same
A few weeks ago, I visited Hong Kong, Hohhot and the grasslands of Inner Mongolia . The trip was inspired by a student exchange programme that Inner Mongolia University and the University of Kentucky have created.
I am fortunate to have visited nearly 100 countries for pleasure and in my business ventures.
For the most part, we are all the same. People may speak a different language or have a different skin colour or physical stature, but there are many identical behaviour patterns. The best example is parents' love for their children. Mothers pushing their young children in carriages or carrying them all have a shared love.
When talking to different businesspeople, there is a lot of worry at the moment about the economy. Will there be enough customers to purchase products or services to let the owner and employees of the business survive?
It has been said that the arts are what make people civilised. I have found that universities, as well as many other institutions, have excellent culture programmes producing ballet, music and drama.
On a negative note, many articles in your newspaper mention corruption in the government, but China is not alone in this regard. Elected officials all over the world will try to take advantage of their position.
To know where we are going, we need to know where we have been. The museums and history of all nations are very important and I have found this especially true in the areas I visited.
All of us like to feel we are welcome in a community, and I was made to feel particularly welcome during my visits. The golden rule is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Ben C. Kaufmann, Lexington, Kentucky, US
Measures to supply more flats needed
There have been complaints of late about the integrity of government officials in Hong Kong.
I think we should be more concerned about the housing shortage.
Hong Kong is an international city with a strong economy and, yet, there are people living in subdivided apartments and others joining a long waiting list for a public housing flat.
In this "Pearl of the Orient", there are still many citizens who cannot afford to own their own apartment.
There are not enough affordable apartments to meet demand.
Renovation of old buildings and housing estates would partially solve this shortage, as would reclamation.
Another problem is that prices are too high and the government has to bring in more measures to counter this and help bring them down.
There will be unrest if the administration cannot implement measures that enable young people to purchase their own flat.
Ben Chun Ka-wai, Sha Tin