Letters to the Editor, April 17, 2014
Boredom a negative force in classroom
I refer to Tony Yuen's letter ("Our schools can teach English better and not bore our children", April 8). I absolutely agree with him that our education vision has to move on.
As an English-language teacher at a Direct Subsidy Scheme school, I feel blessed that we have implemented a school-based curriculum that allows teachers to devise our own teaching materials based on students' needs.
Our curriculum focuses on the language arts at the junior level so that our students can be exposed to a broad variety of texts, ranging from legends and myths to short fiction and novels. Throughout their junior school life, students do numerous presentations, dramas and group work. They show their interest in doing so.
We have no dictation in our English lessons. Undeniably, students' spelling is not perfect. But they are confident in communicating with each other in English, even the secondary one children. Isn't it more important that the future pillars of our society are able to articulate confidently? I am sure that if students are able to pronounce words correctly, they will be able to spell words right eventually.
Apart from the "no dictation" policy, we also do not teach grammar separately. This action drives some parents crazy.
We have been asked why we were not teaching any grammar. In fact, we do in a contextualised way. As I said, we adopt different texts in teaching, from which we identify the language features and teach students their usage. The use of grammar is far more essential than remembering to use the simple past tense when we see the word "ago".
Apparently, it is difficult for parents to accept a philosophy that differs from how they were taught themselves. But I am sure my school is on the right track.
Boredom kills our children's creativity and curiosity and we must not let this continue to happen.
Fiona Chan, Ma On Shan
Memorising texts not helping pupils
As a secondary school pupil I believe the education system in Hong Kong is flawed.
In class we are given plenty of notes and passages to read and recite, but do we really grasp their meaning? If not, what use are they to us? The thinking behind this kind of teaching is that if we can remember all this material, this will improve our knowledge and raise our academic level, but I disagree.
Students see memorising a passage as just another piece of homework, but they derive no pleasure from it. And if they are given a great deal of this kind of homework, it can leave them depressed and exhausted.
With such a heavy workload, youngsters go to school early in the morning and continue studying at home in the evening. During our holidays, we need to finish our assignments and prepare for the next term's exams and tests. This leaves us with little leisure time.
In many other countries like New Zealand, students are encouraged to enjoy studying and face much less pressure than we do.
They learn about such things as nature and this widens the range of their knowledge. The government must recognise the need to reform the education system.
Amy Lau Mei-yin, Kwai Chung
Puzzled by politicians' trip to America
I refer to the report ("Pan-democrat pair told of US fears for the city", April 5).
Anson Chan Fang On-sang and Martin Lee Chu-ming were pictured with Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Party leader of the US House of Representatives.
It is worrying to see Ms Pelosi's associates trying to advise China along with two Hong Kong Chinese, Mr Lee and Mrs Chan, known for their attitude towards China, their own country.
They are both charming personalities. Mr Lee is by no means democratic, but is strongly against the present Chinese government, while Mrs Chan seems to change her views according to who she is talking to.
Of course they are free to give their views, but why go to America to do so? Is it their purpose to denigrate their country before anti-Chinese Americans who think they run the world? They also met Senator Sherrod Brown, who said the future of freedom and democracy in Hong Kong was "under serious threat" by China.
I have lived in Hong Kong and China since 1948 and admire China for saving the country from American and British colonialism after the second world war. China should be left to its own way.
It has never been a colonial power and hopefully never will be. Americans, sadly, are being educated to misunderstand China. That, not China, is Mr Brown's "threat to democracy".
Elsie Tu, Kwun Tong
Sage advice for maverick lawmaker
Lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, or "Long Hair", is well known for his misconduct in the Legislative Council. He has caused enough trouble for the SAR government.
As one of the legislators invited to Shanghai to discuss political reform in 2017, he returned to Hong Kong after "he refused a request from customs officials to hand over material banned on the mainland" ("Beijing, pan-dems no closer after meeting", April 14). This was obviously a stumbling block to Legco seeking a better deal for the 2017 election.
He should have recalled a Confucianist phrase about being informed of the dos and don'ts of a state before entering it. Otherwise you may do something which is seen as interfering in a state's affairs.
Peter Wei, Kwun Tong
Homes more important than casinos
Some people support establishing casinos in Hong Kong, arguing that they would attract more tourists and boost the economy.
While this may be true, there is also a downside to having them in the SAR. It is more important to build more houses on land which might be allocated for casino operators.
Also, the gaming industry is already well-established in Macau and I think most people wanting to gamble would prefer to go there rather than Hong Kong.
If, however, the government feels there may be an argument for constructing them, it would have to gauge the opinion of the public to see if there was genuine support for the idea.
Stephanie Kuo Hsiao, Kowloon City
Harassment of visitors harms economy
There have been occasions when mainland tourists have been harassed, with protests against them, and I do not think this is good for Hong Kong.
If such harassment continues it will create a bad impression with visitors and harm the city's economy.
Hongkongers should not resort to radical action to express their dissatisfaction on various issues such as mainland visitors or high property prices.
Criticising these visitors for certain problems in society is unfair, because it amounts to tarring everyone with the same brush.
It is wrong to say all these visitors are responsible for the disruption of social harmony. After all, it is understandable tourists from over the border would want to come to a city that is known as a shopper's paradise, and they should not face discrimination or any form of harassment.
They contribute to Hong Kong's economic success. If we try to stop them coming here, we undermine that success and tarnish the city's image abroad.
Another form of protest, Occupy Central, has also been cited as a threat to the competitiveness of Hong Kong. However, the movement can help Hongkongers to reflect on their core values.
The pursuit of personal wealth can indirectly lead to a wider gap between rich and poor.
Jaden Ho Lok-hin, Tseung Kwan O
Co-operation could prevent price hikes
I think the government could do more to help retailers of live chickens in Hong Kong.
Many vendors closed for business to protest over high wholesale prices with steep rises in the price per catty. This is happening because of the ban on the import of live poultry from the mainland [triggered by the bird flu scare]. The vendors must rely on local suppliers for live birds.
It is not the first time Hong Kong has had to deal with this problem. Despite this, the government has failed to implement measures to help the vendors who, because of price hikes, have fewer customers.
When they have received compensation it has not been enough and their situation is unlikely to get better until the mainland imports resume.
The fact is that many citizens still prefer to buy live chickens rather than chilled ones. The government should have intervened and sought some kind of co-operation between live chicken wholesalers and retailers so that a solution could be reached and the chickens could still be sold at reasonable prices.
This is better than coming up with some kind of compensation package. Officials should investigate all available options to maintain a steady supply of live chickens.
Lui Wai-ki, Kowloon Tong