Letters to the editor, March 7, 2016

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 March, 2016, 5:21pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 March, 2016, 5:20pm

Exam-oriented system needs major reforms

I think the nature of the education system in Hong Kong is such that many young people with talent are not able to fulfil their potential.

To begin with, students are put under too much pressure at Hong Kong schools.

They face many tests and quizzes which force them to do a lot of homework. If they cannot submit all their work on time then they are punished.

This may involve having to stay after school and do additional work.

At secondary school, the most important exam is the ­Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exam.

How you do in that exam will determine your future. It is your one chance to shine and if you do badly then it can ruin your chance of a getting a place at a university.

Some people may have gifts, but they do not do well in exams, and yet their options are limited if they do badly in the DSE.

We should follow the ­example set by some countries, such as the US, where there is more flexibility in schools. The emphasis is on developing ­overall skills and trying to teach in interesting, interactive ways.

With that kind of a system, Hong Kong students would be able to study with less stress and would be more happy in their school environment.

They would definitely find their studies more interesting if there was less focus on tests and exam results.

Donald Chan, Tseung Kwan O

Country park trails are in dreadful state

The footpaths in the Pat Sin Leng Country Park have badly suffered from erosion in the last few years, so much so that one can no longer talk of walking them, only picking one’s way along them.

One of the worst examples is the stretch between the Hok Tau Reservoir and Sha Lo Tung, where negotiating one’s way is presently a balancing act. As a result hikers have largely ­deserted that route.

So now we have in Hong Kong a situation where the government is willing to spend HK$100 billion on a ­mega construction project for which there is little or no demand, but no money on restoring a facility that provides very desirable relief from polluted cities, and is vital to citizens’ physical and mental health.

This order of priorities can hardly endear the government to its subjects.

David E. Pollard, Tai Po

Candidate in election is real Hongkonger

I am concerned about recent media coverage over the spokesman for Hong Kong Indigenous, Edward Leung Tin-kei.

In the New Territories East by-election, he received 66,524 votes, which was better than was expected. Now there have been media reports that as he was born on the mainland, he ­cannot really be regarded as a Hongkonger and localist. Some of the attacks have been quite personal.

It does not matter where he was born.

He was brought up and lives in this city and has embraced ­local culture and so he should be considered a Hong Kong person. There are many well-known people who were not born in Hong Kong, but spent most of their lives here and consider Hong Kong to be home.

Hong Kong is a melting pot with people coming from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.

As long as an individual strives to integrate himself into society, he should be regarded and accepted to be a part of Hong Kong.

The narrow view of identity, which confines a person to his place of birth, should never be supported or become the mainstream. I hope these negative press reports will soon come to an end.

Tess Law, Kwun Tong

Women and girls have right to health care

What are we talking about when we talk about women’s rights and opportunities? Career and educational opportunities? Civil rights? Equality?

These issues are always at the centre of the discussion. However, we seldom consider the obvious links to how health affects a woman’s ability to ­access equal rights.

In developing countries, vision loss is one of the most significant health barriers to ­accessing education and independence. Almost two thirds of the world’s blind are women.

The gender imbalance in a lot of developing countries is ­because men control family ­finances and women’s medical needs are not prioritised. And the discrimination can start from an early age.

Girls are disproportionately called on to care for older relatives with vision loss. They are the ones who most often miss out on going to school, don’t get an education and get stuck in a cycle of ­poverty.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals outline that all children have a right to a good-quality education. It is important to prioritise significant investment in education and health, especially for girls and women, so as to ­provide them the path to ­learning and independence.

Investing in school vision programmes that target the higher number of girls suffering from avoidable blindness and vision impairment leads to economic and social development.

According to the World Bank, the return on one year of secondary education for a girl equates to as much as a 25 per cent increase in wages later in life.

These earnings, in turn, ­contribute to national economic growth. It is no ­surprise that these impacts carry from one generation to the next, with educated girls having fewer, healthier and better ­educated children.

For women in developing countries, seeing has a direct ­impact on living standards, ­education and poverty. On International Women’s Day, let’s not forget to raise concerns about women’s medical rights and their rights to access sight-saving services.

Brian Doolan, CEO, the Fred Hollows Foundation

Language problems put off tourists

The number of tourists visiting China has continued to drop in recent years and I think this may be linked to the worsening levels of pollution and the attitude of some mainland citizens to visitors.

Some foreigners have complained that they get little or no help when they ask residents for directions on the mainland and even in Hong Kong.

So they often leave the ­country with bad memories and bad stories to tell.

One of the reasons for this is probably the poor English standards in China, and this even ­applies to shop assistants. Many cannot communicate properly with foreign ­tourists.

This is something that should be dealt with by the government if it wants to attract more tourists.

It must ensure that shops that are frequented by tourists in the country have staff who can communicate in basic English.

Cathy Yuen, Tseung Kwan O

Low turnout shows people still apathetic

There is no doubt that many Hongkongers want democracy.

Ironically, I don’t think we really deserve to have democracy at this moment.

We can see that clearly in the Legco by-election for New Territories East on February 28, where turnout was just over 46 per cent. This shows that Hongkongers are still politically apathetic.

Evidently, Hong Kong ­people need democracy to tackle the political dilemma in our society. But we should not blame the central government or rely on the British only.

What we need is an ideological and cultural revolution to provoke people’s sense of civil responsibilities. Then, people will know that it is their obligation to vote. At that time, we will have the power to struggle for democracy. That is the people’s power.

Will Hong Kong ever have genuine democracy? This a question we should ask Hongkongers, not the central government.

Jackie Lee, Tai Po