Letters to the Editor, January 12, 2014
Self-financingcollege policy looks flawed
I refer to the letter from Lam Wai-leung ("Self-financing colleges not monitored", December 30).
The government has long been providing the opportunity for senior secondary school leavers to have access to tertiary colleges. In 2000 one of the approaches adopted by the government was to promote post-secondary education.
In recent years, the government has been striving to develop private universities and with this rapid development, I am most concerned about the quality of the programmes offered by those self-financing colleges.
The current self-financing colleges lack differentiation. Many self-financing post-secondary colleges are not very well known, and although they worked hard on enrolment, their student intake was far from satisfactory.
Many faced such difficulties in securing enrolment for their courses that it was very difficult for them to continue operating.
Some institutions which had secured government loans were unable to repay them, which shows that there are flaws in the government's policy on self-financing colleges.
In the past, the government would rather allocate resources to publicly funded institutions because it considered that these institutions would be able to repay loans, while many self-financing colleges might not have such an ability.
The government should be concerned about the financial position of some self-financing post-secondary institutions and their possible closure.
James Tsui, Chai Wan
Advantages of e-learning are clear to see
Without doubt, e-learning has lots of advantages, especially in saving a lot of space.
For example, we have about 30 to 40 books to learn in preparation for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education. If the content can be saved on IT gadgets such as iPads and smartphones, students can save space that would otherwise have been taken up by bulky books.
Also, e-learning is convenient. Just 1GB of disk space can save up to four books, so we need not bring a lot of books to school. We can just bring our IT devices. We can relax because our bag is lighter.
E-learning has economic and ecological benefits in not needing to replace old and worn-out books. The more e-learning we use, the more trees we can save.
Besides, e-learning is interactive. There are many sound effects and videos, all of which make the student's learning more interesting.
Some may say that e-learning is unhealthy for the eyes, but if used sensibly, such as doing regular exercise and taking breaks every 45 minutes, it needn't be. It is high time more students used e-learning. It has many academic advantages.
Haidy Lor Yi-nga, Kowloon City
Be tolerant to students from the mainland
Thousands of parents from the mainland submit kindergarten applications in the hope that their children can study in Hong Kong.
Some parents in Hong Kong cannot stand this reality and somehow feel offended, taking to the streets to complain. It would seem that there is a big gap between mainlanders and Hongkongers.
Actually, Hong Kong and the mainland have a close relationship. For example, the Sars virus took hold of Hong Kong in 2003 and the economy declined. So multiple-entry visas were issued to encourage people to come here for shopping.
This arrangement helped Hong Kong's economic development. So having good communication between Hong Kong and the rest of China is indispensable.
Students from the mainland need to overcome a lot of challenges, such as language and cultural barriers.
It is very difficult for these students to integrate.
Try to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Getting the best for your child is a normal aspiration for parents, no matter which country they come from.
We should tolerate and understand students coming from north of the border. As a Hongkonger, I hope we can have a harmonious society.
Lau Yi-tak, Tseung Kwan O
Gap between rich and poor is widening
In his letter ("Pope's attack was on very shaky ground", December 31), Daniel Downes castigates Pope Francis for his lack of statistics.
He quotes economies where gross domestic product has increased dramatically and abject poverty has reduced in order to discredit the pope's attack on unregulated free-market economies.
While on a worldwide scale these statistics are true, they are all drawn from third-world economies or developing nations.
On a worldwide scale, abject poverty has been reduced significantly over the last 20 years. But it is very doubtful that this is due to "trickle-down economics" but more likely due to global poverty alleviation efforts and investment by developed nations in third world countries with an eye to future business development.
The problem that Pope Francis is addressing is the recently appreciated phenomenon of poverty in developed economies. It is here in the very heart of the free-market economy that "trickle-down economics" is not providing jobs for the poor or bringing them the benefits that would be expected from economic growth. It is here that the facts speak for themselves. There are many sorts of poverty and abject poverty is just one of them.
The pope is talking about poverty amidst economic affluence, poverty as a result of a deliberate choice to reward those who are successful with more opportunities to be successful at the expense of those who lack opportunities.
In many developed economies the gap between the rich and poor is getting wider, not smaller, and the poor are getting poorer. Take Hong Kong as an example. It is one of the freest economies in the world, yet the rich-poor gap has grown consistently over the last 10 years.
Last year, when the government finally established a poverty line, we discovered that in 50 per cent of the households defined as poor there was at least one person working. "Trickle-down" is certainly not working here.
Pope Francis was right in saying that, however good economic theory might be, somewhere it has to account for the human greed that is at the heart of us all and which threatens to upset the best of economic intentions.
Tony Read, justice advocate, The Vine Church
Not enough staff to inspect danger signs
Streets in Hong Kong, such as those around Mong Kok, are well known in the world. Thousands of tourists are attracted and curious to come and see them. However, recently a hot issue has risen on these streets.
Realising some neon signs in the streets are very old and have been badly oxidised, officials fear the signs could pose a risk to pedestrians. As it tackles the problem, the government has assigned building inspectors to check the signs.
Nevertheless, because of the sheer number of neon signs and a lack of manpower, the inspectors can hardly investigate all of them and have complained about the situation.
The way I see it, if the government does not provide more staff to carry out the project, the investigation will be endless, as there are just too many signs.
Carol Li Wing-sum, Ma On Shan