Letters to the Editor, July 19, 2016

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2016, 4:14pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 July, 2016, 4:14pm

Homework not right for such young children

I refer to the article by Melissa Stevens (“Should children aged five really be getting homework?” July 2). I agree with her that children aged five should not be assigned homework.

First, children aged five are in the preschool years according to the eight ages of man created by the famous psychologist Erik Erikson.

They should be curious and be allowed to explore different things, and learn to have positive values ­including trying to be purposeful, spirited and enterprising to ­prepare for school. Their ­mission should not be to complete homework assignments. Giving homework takes up time which should be spent exploring different things such as nature.

We should look at other cities and countries where children at that age are not given homework.

For example, in Finland and Austria children are not encouraged to learn how to write before they are seven. It provides enough free time for them to find out about different things.

This is how it should be with five-year-olds in Hong Kong. Homework would just obstruct their development.

We have to give them the freedom to learn about the world without the added pressure of homework.

Angela Cheng Tsz-ki, Sham Shui Po

Workload does undermine happiness

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Hong Kong schoolchildren’s level of happiness dropped to a new low last year.

The research, conducted by Lingnan University, showed this to be the lowest rating since 2012.

A total of 25 primary and secondary schools participated in this research. A major factor in this ­lowering of happiness was the increased workload caused by homework.

Primary Four pupils, aged eight or nine, on average spent almost three hours a day doing homework. For Form Three secondary pupils the daily average is two hours. The research also showed that primary school ­students here sleep around nine hours a night, secondary pupils around seven.

Children’s physical and mental growth is undermined if they do not get sufficient sleep.

The atmosphere in a school should be relaxed so that students can enjoy their time there and make new friends. But in our society there is too much focus on academic studies. Children have so much homework during the school year and sometimes also during holiday periods. Also some will be ­scolded if they do not meet their parents’ high expectations. Compared to Hong Kong I think children in some countries are much happier.

The Education Bureau should be looking at how things are done in these countries, where there is less homework and more activities aimed at ­relieving stress. If schools can make the necessary changes, Hong Kong children will be ­happier and we will see a rise in future happiness indexes.

Natalli Lo, Tseung Kwan O

HK can learn from excellent Shenzhen taxis

Recently I took a taxi from ­Yantian to Lo Wu; a small, smart, clean Toyota with spotless interior and exterior.

The driver was smartly dressed and friendly and was happy to chat to me rather than talking loudly to his mates on the phone. And the dashboard did not resemble that of the Starship Enterprise.

Even more impressive was the impeccable standard of ­driving; acceleration and ­braking were smooth, no ­pumping up and down on the accelerator, merging into traffic was gentle with no aggressive moves and at the end the fare was considerably less than it would have been in Hong Kong. So if it is possible to do things properly in Shenzhen why is it not possible to do it in Hong Kong?

Why do we need to ­introduce premium services to ­provide the level of service that would be standard elsewhere?

We seem too complacent and prepared to put up with low standards because that’s the way it has always been.

Rather than waiting for ­market forces to prevail shouldn’t we be more proactive and set some minimum standards? But no doubt it will be impossible to find anyone whose responsibility it is to monitor our taxi service.

Andy Statham, Happy Valley

Raising fee in hospitals will hurt the poor

People have expressed anger at the long waiting times for emergency services in Hong Kong’s public hospitals.

There have been calls for the emergency services fee to be ­doubled from the present rate of HK$100, to try and stop the ­service from being abused by patients who do not require emergency treatment.

I appreciate that doctors and nurses in these hospitals are overworked. It is argued that if the fee was doubled this would ease the pressure on them and they could concentrate on ­patients who really needed help.

However, the anger that citizens have expressed about ­waiting for hours before being allowed to see a doctor, would get worse if after the HK$200 fee was imposed there was no marked improvement and the long wait remained for all ­patients.

Also, the sum of HK$200 means different things to ­different groups of people.

For a low-income family a fee of HK$200 is a huge amount of money. That might be the sum they allocate for food for the whole week and now they spend all of it on an emergency services fee.

One of the purposes of the public hospital system is that it can provide affordable medical care for all sections of society, ­including those living in ­poverty.

Therefore, I would be ­opposed to the government doubling the fee to HK$200.

Michelle Ho, Yau Yat Chuen

Fewer errors with more medical staff

The number of medical blunders in hospitals in Hong Kong has been a cause for concern.

It is not easy to deal with this problem, but the government must address the problem of doctors and nurses facing such a heavy workload in public ­hospitals.

This must be a contributory factor when it comes to blunders, with so many staff being tired when they have to work such long shifts.

Remuneration must be ­increased in order to keep more doctors and nurses in the public sector.

Also, ways must be found to train more young Hongkongers to work in the health-care sector.

Sheila Wong Mei-chun, Lai Chi Kok

Clarification on dismissal of ICAC official

Your item on the Independent Commission Against Corruption (“Turmoil at ICAC after principal investigator becomes second departure in days from Hong Kong graft-buster”, July 12) contains a serious error.

It states that Alex Tsui Ka-kit, former ICAC deputy director of investigations, was sacked ­because “governor Chris Patten had ‘lost confidence’ in him”.

The reason you gave for his sacking is untrue. I sacked him. The governor played no part in that decision.

The decision was mine alone. The governor was ­informed of my decision, as was the Advisory Committee on ­Corruption.

Bertrand de Speville, former commissioner, ICAC