Amazing Hong Kong students can do well in life – even if they don’t get to university

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 May, 2016, 12:15am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 May, 2016, 12:15am

The large number of young people in Hong Kong who have ended their lives should be a wake-up call for the whole of society.

It is important that we understand the present situation, and what our younger generation is facing.

What we’re losing are future pillars of society, leaders of Hong Kong and lovely people who had unlimited opportunities and so much potential.

Hong Kong is sick. When will parents stop sending their children to countless extracurricular classes after school, and instead spend more time together as a family, talking to their children, taking them for a relaxing dinner after a tiring school day?

I am a teaching assistant in a local secondary school and I believe what our children need is some free time during which they are not instructed or forced to learn anything.

Many children in Hong Kong have less than one hour of leisure time every week, as opposed to at least five to six hours recommended by child psychologists. People seeking to end their lives are not merely looking for solutions to their problems, but to have their voices heard and a shoulder to cry on.

There’s nothing wrong with pursuing academic studies, and it’s good to have goals. However, it is dangerous if you become a slave to these goals. Students should not despair if they fail to get a university place because of public exam results.

They still have plenty of time to realise their dreams. A friend of mine failed to get to university after taking the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination, so opted to study for a diploma in computer science at the Institute of Vocational Education.

He chose a field he really liked and was later offered a scholarship and exchange opportunity in a UK university. Another ex-schoolmate was musically gifted and after Form Five went to the Academy for Performing Arts. He now performs in concerts all over the world. I truly believe university is not the only option and youngsters must be given the freedom to make their own choices.

People should not be judged by academic results or how much money they earn. When we are old, and looking back on our lives, we should be proud that we chased our dreams and had a positive influence on the people around us.

I think Hong Kong youngsters are not useless, but are truly amazing.

Joanne Ko, Kwun Tong