Letters to the Editor, September 21, 2015

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 September, 2015, 12:02am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 September, 2015, 12:02am

Allow online application for Primary One

As a parent of a five-year-old boy, I recently received a package from the Education Bureau, including a DVD video, about the Primary One admission system and booklet about schools in my district.

In addition to filling out a paper form and submitting it to the primary school of my choice, I also need to provide copies of my Hong Kong identity card, my son's birth certificate along with proof of address (for example, a letter from another government agency).

I do not understand why the bureau provided the DVDs and the printed versions when all the information could be made available online. Granted that Hong Kong is also facing the problem of digital divide, but the bureau should at least allow parents to opt out from receiving the hard copies so we can show our children we do care about the environment.

Likewise, all parents should be given the option to fill out the form online, thereby saving the school staff the trouble of re-entering the data manually into the computer system.

In fact, the bureau already has the information of most students and parents who participated in pre-primary education voucher scheme.

Transferring data from the voucher scheme to the admission system would significantly simplify the application form and save a lot of time that we the parents could have spent with our children. The proof of address is also unnecessary if data across different government departments could be shared - for example, the bureau can confirm my address with the Rating and Valuation Department.

Resources are always scarce and especially so for education. The bureau should optimise the Primary One admission system so that less resources are spent on paperwork and more on educating our children.

Simon Wang, Kowloon Tong 

No-walk plea on escalators irrational

I am grateful to Vincent Chow for shedding light on what passes for reasoning within the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department ("Standing still effective way to prevent escalator accidents", September 14).

Escalators, we are told, "are not designed to be walked on". This is a startling assertion which would come as a surprise to countless millions of users worldwide and the numerous transport authorities overseas which actively encourage walking on escalators to boost passenger throughput. Walking on escalators is, according to the department, "especially dangerous when an escalator stops suddenly in an emergency", though why the risk in such circumstances should be thought any greater for those in motion than those standing still is a mystery.

But the true revelation comes in the figures for MTR escalator accidents: just one passenger in almost three million was involved in an escalator accident in 2014. We are not told how many of this vanishingly small number were caused by the act of walking on the escalator as opposed, for instance, to passengers focusing more on their smart-phones than their surroundings.

Mr Chow's letter helpfully confirms that there is no rational basis for the government and the MTR to continue to waste resources bombarding the Hong Kong public with this absurd campaign. Fortunately, the city's travelling public is smart enough to carry on walking - and stay safe.

Mitchell Stoker, Happy Valley

Newspaper kiosks can get in the way

The concept of pedestrianising parts of Central should be lauded. However, it should be part of a territory-wide attempt to make the lives of pedestrians safer and more bearable.

Bringing about the necessary changes in Central is fraught with difficulties and will take time. There are, however, simple expedients, besides a more proactive police approach to, for example, illegal parking and speeding, that could have an immediate effect on reducing the plight of our long-suffering pedestrians in all parts of Hong Kong.

The pavement, I assume, is a public thoroughfare; therefore any blocking of this right of way is theoretically illegal.

Why then are newspaper vendors in particular, permitted to partially block what is one of the most crowded streets in Hong Kong? There are four operating in a 200-metre stretch extending westward along King's Road from North Point MTR station. To make life even more difficult for pedestrians is the equipment left to stand for an inordinate amount of time after job completion by our Public Works Department.

There are so many obvious ways of making walking in the city a more civilised experience, but who in authority has the courage or will to implement them?

Jim Francis, North Point

Home-school environment can be better

I refer to the letter by Wu Hiu-tek ("Schools have obvious advantages", September 7).

I disagree with the points he makes about homeschooling. When it comes to determining the true purpose of education, I think homeschooling can do just as well as mainstream schools and maybe even better.

Young children are naturally curious, but once they enter Hong Kong's spoon-fed education system, there are few opportunities for them to satisfy that curiosity. They are overwhelmed by classes and homework, stressed out by a large curriculum. They end up being confused and disheartened and feel they are learning without knowing the purpose.

In this system, their curiosity vanishes. However, in the right homeschooling environment, it can be encouraged. With long- and short-term goals, children can keep that natural curiosity and achieve their goals.

Mr Wu said that schools help students to integrate into society. Yet, many employers say that some of the young people they hire are not punctual at work, are self-centred and irresponsible. This is hardly a sign of integration.

Many youngsters are pampered by their parents and focus solely on getting good academic results. They do not learn social skills like how to behave in a workplace. And they have great difficulty integrating into a work environment.

However, with a customised curriculum, homeschooled children, under parental guidance, can learn self-discipline, good time management and independence. They can acquire the practical skills that enable them to cope well with social integration.

Regarding the claim of lack of interaction, parents can take their children to meet with other homeschooled children, so they are not isolated.

Clover Lau, Ma On Shan

Having right work attitude is what counts

I refer to the report "Employers 'would rather hire mainland graduates'" (September 10). I can understand the difficulties new Hong Kong graduates experience when looking for work. And when they find a job they do not earn a lot, on average HK$10,800 a month.

Hong Kong is a competitive society. These young people need to make whatever improvements are necessary to ensure they are more competitive on the job market.

Compare this to the mainland where young adults recognise that they have to work harder if they want to get a good job.

This is why many local employers prefer to hire them.

Young Hongkongers need to recognise this and change their work attitude.

Anson Ng Tsz-hin, Tseung Kwan O

Later starting time will help students

Many schools start early in Hong Kong, leaving pupils feeling very tired.

They have a lot of tests and this means they have a great deal of homework to do every evening. This is especially the case with students in senior forms.

They may have to stay up late at night in order to finish it all. If they have to start school the next day at 8am, they will likely go in tired as they will not have had enough sleep.

In addition, they may also have to attend tutorial classes, which puts even more pressure on their schedule after school. They are often left with very little time to relax.

I think it would be better if the school day started at 9am. It would make a big difference if students could get that extra hour of sleep.

We should look at other school systems and follow their example. In Finland, students start much later than in Hong Kong and obviously these youngsters will start their school day feeling fresher and more alert.

We need to do away with the 8am starts.

Yang Wenyi, Tuen Mun

Internet room at Pyongyang functioning

I would like to update readers following your article on North Korea and the installation by the regime of an internet room at the capital's airport ("Pyongyang's new airport internet room doesn't have any keyboards - or internet", August 26).

Having just returned from Pyongyang, I can report that the system is fully functioning with high-speed surfing, keyboards and open access to global sites.

Magnus Marchand, Kennedy Town