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HKDSE - Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education

DSE liberal studies review will require balanced approach

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 May, 2018, 4:27pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 May, 2018, 11:08pm

I refer to Mr Cheung Siu Ming’s letter on liberal studies (“DSE liberal studies was designed to spearhead Hong Kong education reform”, May 14) 

Mr Cheung highlighted the aim behind the design of this core subject for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exam: it was a well-intentioned move by the government to implement education reform in local schools. Unfortunately, due to the lack of coordination and the underestimation of relevant key issues, an excellent and grand design has turned into a nightmare.

I believe the reformers themselves were too ambitious at the start, in introducing a new subject to local schools. But what happened in 2014 in Occupy Central and later in Mong Kok turned out to be a disaster for the subject. 

A section of the public believes young people in Hong Kong have been “trained” to become anti-government and liberal studies is the “drug”. l believe the worst-case scenario for the subject would be if it were to be scrapped or shelved permanently. But can we turn things around?

Review of liberal studies is required

I certainly agree with those who say that this subject is suitable for the brightest students with creative ideas and it should not be compulsory for all DSE candidates. Therefore, it is advisable to change this subject into an elective, which would give students room to be more flexible in their subject choices.

More importantly, science students can choose physics, chemistry and biology along with Chinese, English and mathematics, instead of only two out of the three science subjects.

To my understanding, the reformers themselves would like to introduce a less rigid marking scheme and, if all goes smoothly, the new marking scheme could be extended to all subjects.

However, I believe the proposal to grade the paper as just pass or fail is too simplistic. We could adopt a new three-tier grading system: pass with distinction, pass and fail. In so doing, we can reward students who put in greater efforts and give them a grade they deserve. 

Reforms have always been difficult. And it is easy to go astray since this subject offers room for public debate and discussion. We should put our heads together for the well-being of our community. 

Lo Wai Kong, Yau Ma Tei