TSA exam

One third of poll respondents unwilling to take part in Hong Kong school test

Union survey results released as education minister Eddie Ng says 500 schools willing to participate in Basic Competency Assessment, which replaces Territory-wide System Assessment

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 March, 2017, 8:51pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 March, 2017, 10:59pm

About one third of Hong Kong schools replying to a poll do not want to take part in a controversial citywide assessment this year, according to results released by a teachers’ union.

The survey findings came as Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim said that 500 schools across the territory had arranged to participate in the test, called the Basic Competency Assessment (BCA). Those taking part include all public schools and around 20 private institutions, he said.

Hong Kong government panel to urge resuming TSA exam and making it compulsory

The test replaces the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) for Primary Three pupils. It was suspended for a year following complaints by teachers and parents of the pressure it placed on primary pupils.

In January, Ng announced plans to extend the BCA research study to all primary schools this year, following a trial run in about 50 schools last year. But critics have slammed the Education Bureau’s move as a repackaging of the TSA.

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen, who is also vice-president of the Professional Teachers’ Union, said on Sunday that the group sent survey questionnaires to all primary school principals on Wednesday last week.

After two working days, the union received 71 replies, of which 26 principals indicated they were not willing to participate in this year’s test, 23 said they had no opinion or had not decided, while one did not answer the questionnaire. Only 21 principals said they were willing to take part.

Ip added that the replies came from principals of aided – which are considered public schools – and private institutions.

“This means these schools will be forced to take part in the assessment, meaning the bureau does not respect the schools’ professional decision,” he said.

Ip warned that the BCA would still involve drilling for students given the past history of the tests.

Parents anger over continued drilling for TSA exams

The union, along with various parent groups, also announced the establishment of an alliance opposed to the resumption of the tests. The alliance consists of 146 groups, including those representing parents, educators and students. Several pan-democratic legislators are also involved.

The alliance will organise forums, street booths and a meeting on March 15 with Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, representatives from the education and labour and welfare bureaus, and Professor Paul Yip Siu-fai, chairman of a committee on preventing student suicides.

Annie Cheung Yim-shuen, the spokeswoman of one of the parent concern groups, said she hoped all parents of Primary Three students would be prepared to boycott the test.

“We hope [the boycott] will not need to happen. I hope there will be a change after we meet Cheung,” she said.

The spokeswoman added that in the last two weeks, the group had received 800 letters of intent from parents indicating they would boycott the assessment, with most having children studying in Primary Three.

Cheung said the letters were collected through their website and at street booths, with parents leaving their name and contact details.

Ng reiterated on Sunday that conducting the BCA was different from resuming the TSA, adding that the test would no longer be tricky. He said the research study would not be used to compare schools and there would therefore be no pressure to drill students.