Boy at public housing school joins elite group of top-scoring pupils
Chan Sze-hoi believes Hong Kong is a place where hard work pays off whatever your background - and he should know, having joined the ranks of top scorers in the Diploma for Secondary Education examinations.
"I don't think it makes a difference being a student of a public housing school," said the Form Six student of Po Leung Kuk No 1 W.H. Cheung College in Tsz Wan Shan, an area known for its densely packed public housing estates, one of which is home to Chan. "If one works hard, everyone can find their way to success," he said.
Chan had just been told that his physics score in the examinations had been ungraded to the 5** rating, admitting him to the elite group of five other students who achieved the top score in seven subjects, the best performance this year.
And while thousands of other students spent their spare time cramming for the exams under private tutors, Chan has no time for such activities - apart from the fact that he cannot afford them. "I would like to keep the time for myself. You can create the best timetable for yourself."
He is among some 24,900 students - 34 per cent - who took the exams but applied for their grades to be double checked, according to Hong Kong Examination and Assessments Authority.
Another student was given 5** in a sixth subject following an appeal, making 33 students who had 5** in six or more subjects.
The change made no difference to the offer of admission to the University of Hong Kong law school that Chan had already received, but he said it had "fulfilled" his parents' dreams.
Also, a "better-looking" score sheet may help him in his application for a scholarship later, following a HK$26,000 grant given to him by Po Leung Kuk, the school's sponsoring body. He spent part of the cash to get his first smartphone.
Tsz Wan Shan school principal Chau Chor-shing said Chan was their first student to achieve top marks across the board since a pupil scored 10 As in the old Hong Kong Certificate of Education examinations 12 years ago.
Chan said he would like to help the underprivileged after graduation.
"I believe in the legal system in Hong Kong and that if people follow the rules, justice will be seen and people will be respected," he said.