Letters to the editor, March 11, 2016

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 March, 2016, 4:27pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 March, 2016, 4:27pm

Tragic deaths a wake-up call for bureau

It deeply saddens me that, according to the latest statistics, 22 students (from schools and universities) have committed suicide since September last year.

The Education Bureau, the government, schools and parents need to take steps to stop this from happening. These young boys and girls feel so pressured by everything, they feel the only way out is death.

I have worked as a native English-speaking teacher (NET) in schools here and am appalled at the workload. Lessons in different topics are taught in one day. For example, years ago in maths, say, the teacher would spend one week on multiplication, then the next week on long division. Now students have to learn these same things in one day and are given hours of homework to practise.

How can a child complete the homework if they do not grasp the basics in class? This then leads parents to send their children to tutors.

Let’s not ­forget that secondary school students have to take extracurricular activities after school. Then there are other competitions and awards students are told they must apply for by their teachers. In the holidays, do they get a break? No. They are sent to camps and other activities.

As a working adult, would you accept such terrible working conditions? I’m guessing not.

The bureau needs to revise its curriculum so that teachers have the chance to teach ­subjects properly so all the ­students can understand what they are learning. Teachers should stop pushing students to apply for competitions or awards and, finally: parents, give your kids a break. Everyone wants their child to succeed, but at what cost?

Aileen Valentine, director, Wise Choice Education

Shift emphasis away from rote-learning

I am concerned about the high number of students committing suicide since the start of the academic year.

All these cases show that there is an urgent need for ­students to receive life education to help them relieve the pressure they are under. They face heavy workloads at school, and then in the evening when their parents sign them up for tutorial classes in an effort to improve their academic results and make them more competitive.

Many parents’ expectations of what their children can achieve are too high. And often they think they know best and will not allow their children to make their own choices regarding their future. They will mistakenly tell their children that without a university degree, you cannot find a good job.

Children who are unable to reach unrealistic goals can become pessimistic and feel the obstacles in their path are insurmountable. Some, as a last resort, take their own lives. There is an urgent need to find a way to help students enjoy the process of learning, which can be difficult with the present exam-oriented spoon-feeding system of education.

The Education Bureau has to take concrete action and have life education classes so students can learn to deal with pressure. More social workers must be on hand in schools to offer counselling. Young people need to learn to cope with life’s ups and downs.

The message also needs to be got across that a university degree is only one option and there many other rewarding ­career paths to follow.

Hong Kong’s education ­system should not only focus on academic studies but also recognise the importance of the all-round development of ­students. Emphasis should be placed on developing their critical thinking skills rather than cramming them with knowledge. The rising problem of ­suicides must be addressed by the bureau.

Rainbow Leung Wai-yu, Tseung Kwan O

Impose speed limit to protect dolphins

Last month, the Airport Authority was accused of ­allowing high-speed ferries to and from its SkyPier to break the agreed speed limit in waters which are the habitat of Chinese white dolphins.

The dolphins are one of Hong Kong’s treasures. There are only a few of them left and it is important that they are given sufficient protection by the government.

A 15-knot limit was imposed (as part of the authority’s environmental permit for the third runway project) in order to protect the dolphins and I strongly agree with it. I appreciate that the third runway can bring a lot of benefits to the economy, but the construction project could threaten the ­dolphins’ habitat.

The government must ­ensure that the project does not lead to the dolphins ­becoming extinct in the waters around Hong Kong. The speed limit should be enforced. I want ­future generations to be able to enjoy these dolphins.

Mandy Yeung, Yau Yat Chuen

What is CY angling for with new idea?

It is abhorrent that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying refers to the “working class” in his puerile idea to create three lunchtime angling zones and a swimming shed for the masses to enjoy “after a simple lunch” (“Get reel, CY: angling zone plan ridiculed”, March 9).

Perhaps I am mistaken but Mr Leung is not of noble birth and earns his crust as an ­employee of the state. He is, by ­simple definition, working class.

There is a cut-off between working class and middle class, one having discretionary ­income, rather than simply sustenance. Do we conclude that our chief executive hopes his working class people can also fish for their supper?

Mark Peaker, The Peak

Temporary hawker licence is best solution

The “fishball revolution”, the term used to describe the disturbances last month in Mong Kok, started because of anger over a police crackdown on unlicensed hawkers.

Many people felt that it was generally accepted that these vendors were allowed to ply their trade over Lunar New Year.

In future, I think temporary hawker licences should be issued to these hawkers to cover this short period. Food and environmental ­hygiene officers could be ­deployed to ensure that they obeyed hygiene regulations.

Imposing a blanket ban on these hawkers was not the right way to deal with the problem. Hawkers are seen as part of the collective memory of Hong Kong and are therefore treasured by many Hong Kong citizens.

We can all remember eating the food they prepare such as fishballs, pig skin and noodles.

They have been plying their trade during Lunar New Year for decades, at a time when many local businesses, including restaurants, are closed. So they are just grabbing their chance to earn extra income.

It was a bit cold-blooded of the government to crack down on them in this way.

Maggie Chan Hiu-suet, Cheung Sha Wan

Department’s bizarre rules for cancelling

Could the Leisure and Cultural Services Department comment on the ludicrous system employed for booking sports facilities online (via their very un-intuitive website), whereby it is possible to book a tennis court online but not cancel it in the same manner?

I had to try and cancel a court booked online on March 4, due to illness, and after calling the helpline (a misnomer in itself), I was told the only way to ­cancel the court was to go to the venue in person.

Does no one at the department realise that a usual reason for cancellation is not being able to get to the court, for example, due to illness?

If you miss a booking without cancellation, then the department locks you out of the online booking system.

So the only way to avoid this draconian punishment is to attend in person. Once there, the helpful ­assistant hands you a form to fill out – and then they fax it back to the main office.This is a ridiculous system.

I know you can register as a ­leisure link patron and cancel online that way, but why does the department allow people to book without registering if it then makes it impossible to cancel?

I presume that the department powers that be are fans of Kafka.

Giles Hunter, Mid-Levels