Letters to the Editor, February 10, 2016

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 February, 2016, 4:37pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 February, 2016, 4:37pm

School should be about more than exams

I refer to the article by Paul Yip (“Exam fatigue”, February 1).

He was critical of the exam-orientated culture in the city and the failure of the current education system.

I think it is partly true to say that students in Hong Kong ­cannot achieve their full potential with so much emphasis being placed on exams.

I also believe the situation is made worse by parents signing their children up for so many extracurricular activities. In addition the curriculum in schools is too narrow.

Many youngsters sign up to attend after-school tutorial classes because they believe their priority should be to do well in exams. They are told that good academic results are everything.

Doing well in exams can get them into a local university and a good degree improves their prospects of having a bright ­career on a high salary. But with so much focus on exams they do not have time to develop their own interests.

Parents here are too willing to accept this state of affairs and put their children into so many after-school activities including tutorial colleges. They feel these activities could help them in interviews for university places and jobs. But as a result the real potential of some students goes unrecognised.

They may be forced into extracurricular activities that do not interest them, such as ­learning to play the piano or speak a foreign language.

However, often the children are not consulted and not asked if they want to go.

They may not be very good at languages or not musically ­gifted and do not wish to learn a musical instrument. Maybe, for example, they would rather have horse-riding lessons, but their parents do not think this would help them academically.

Hong Kong parents need to recognise that their child may have talent (for example in sport) that is not academic.

Some schools abroad have a wide variety of extracurricular activities that go beyond the narrow curriculum, such as ­hiking and gardening clubs.

We need to get away from the exam-orientated culture and ­offer young people more variety.

School should be about more than getting good exam ­results.

Linda Ng Lai-yin, Kwai Fong

Government’s food truck cost is far too high

People from the grass roots in society showed that they could supply food trucks that would meet the needs of local people (“Designer trucks give government food for thought”, February 1).

I think the government should lower the financial qualifications needed to entitle someone to join the food truck pilot scheme. The government’s estimated HK$600,000 start-up cost for a food truck in its pilot scheme is too high.

Ordinary people wanting to get involved and offer food in this way could not afford that sum of money. If I wanted to sell food it would be cheaper for me to rent a store than apply for a food truck start-up. If the sum was lowered more people would be willing to join and sell local food. It could mean more jobs for Hongkongers.

The emphasis should be on local people.

The government wants 12 of these trucks to operate in ­popular tourist locations. ­However, these businesses should not just be trying to ­attract tourists, but also ­appealing to ordinary citizens.

If more small businesses could be established selling affordable fare it would be popular with citizens and with tourists.

The government needs to consider the advantages of ­having a more realistic start-up cost so that more Hong Kong entrepreneurs can get businesses started. This will boost ­local businesses and the tourism sector, so everyone would gain.

There are clearly people out there who want to launch more grass-roots versions of these food trucks and who would be meeting a genuine demand. Therefore the administration has to make the necessary adjustments so that low-cost start-ups can be given the chance to get involved.

Natalie Siu Hoi-tung, Yau Yat Chuen

Bad air now getting serious in Beijing

The air pollution problem in Beijing has become very serious, reaching record levels, and the capital is often enveloped in smog.

The problem has attracted headlines and front-page stories in news reports around the world. When I see some pictures when the smog is really bad I find it difficult to believe that people have to live in such badly-polluted conditions.

This is not just a problem in Beijing. Bad air pollution also ­affects other cities on the mainland.

Residents are often forced to go out in the streets wearing masks to give themselves some protection. Some activities are actually suspended until the pollution levels drop and the smog has cleared. Obviously even with masks people suffer from health problems and for some of them this can mean having to stay indoors.

There is no doubt that this bad air is the result of human ­activities. There are a number of ­factors, such as deforestation when trees are felled for various reasons including the production of paper. Also, as the ­earning power of many citizens increases, more of them buy ­private cars and motorbikes ­because it is so convenient.

This is a serious problem in China and globally and we all must recognise this and do our best to lower the bad levels of air pollution in our countries.

Climate change affects all our lives. We must all do what we can to protect our planet.

Kevinie Suen Hiu-yee, Lai Chi Kok

Women must fight against discrimination

I refer to a report about a court case in the US (“Female chauffeurs win anti-discrimination suit”, February 1).

I think this case highlights the need to fight discrimination in the workplace.

There are still some companies where preference is given to male over female employees.

This manifests itself in ­different ways, but often it means that the male employee gets paid more for doing a ­similar job and working the same hours.

This is obviously unfair to the female employees.

There can also be problems with some parents not wanting their daughters to go into ­certain professions or sports such as professional ­soccer, ­because they do not think they are ­suitable for ­women.

It helps when you see role models showing that a woman is just as capable of doing a job as a man, especially a job that is ­usually associated with men, for example, South Korea’s president Park Geun-Hye.

It is very clear that discrimination in the workplace against women is no longer acceptable.

Dennis Fan, Tseung Kwan O

MTR is right to persevere with announcement

I refer to the letter by Colin ­Bosher (“Escalator walkers are in no danger”, February 1) which I think misleads readers.

Your correspondent writes about his own experience, saying he felt safe when walking on an escalator at an MTR station which suddenly stopped.

However, he might not be so fortunate if this happens again. For example, if you chose not to wear a seat belt in a vehicle, you might be all right on a few occasions, but if there was an accident the risk of sustaining an injury would increase without the belt.

Mr Bosher advises the MTR Corporation to stop exhorting passengers to remain stationary, arguing this will slow down the flow and result in conflicts ­between users.

However, the MTR Corp really needs to do this.

There will be more accidents if it does not make this announcement.

Hong Kong people are ­extremely busy and do not like to have their time wasted in any way.

However, there is nothing more important than safety.

Surely it is worth waiting a little bit longer on an escalator if it ensures that you do not sustain an injury.

Alex Law, Tseung Kwan O