Hong Kong group wants parents to report schools drilling pupils for controversial test

Group also encourages them to praise institutions publicly if they made special arrangements for students not taking exam

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 6:48pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 April, 2017, 8:54am

A Hong Kong parents’ group is making another move to stop a controversial city-wide examination, long criticised for putting undue stress on Primary Three pupils.

Annie Cheung Yim-shuen, a spokeswoman for Parents United of Hong Kong, said the group would encourage parents to report and publicise names of schools which drill pupils for a revised version of the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA), taking place next month.

She added that the group would also encourage parents to publicly praise schools making special arrangements for pupils not taking the exam.

“We urge parents to save their own children,” Cheung said.

Doreen Ho Mei-yee, a member of the group, said she knew of cases where schools used time for after-class activities to prepare pupils for the exam instead, assigning exercises or mock papers for them to do. She added that some schools, knowing parents would be against excessive amounts of homework, made pupils finish their exercises in school.

Activists step up efforts to get rid of controversial Hong Kong exam

“The Education Bureau has always said this won’t happen,” Ho said. “It only asked parents to discuss these issues with schools. It is passing the buck.”

The group will hold an event on April 22, where children will be invited to take part in a mock exam – but they can complete it however they want, such as by not sticking to the time limit or providing imaginative answers to the questions.

The TSA, originally designed to enhance learning and teaching, has in recent years become notoriously synonymous with the city’s high pressure education.

In January, the bureau announced a revamped version of the exam, which underwent a review by a government-appointed committee, claiming it was less demanding and unlikely to lead to drilling. It also added that Primary Three pupils in all government-subsidised schools and some 20 private schools would take part in the exam, now called Basic Competency Assessment (BCA).

Ho said she knew dozens of schools had bought exercises for the upcoming BCA and believed 90 per cent of schools taking part would eventually buy them.

Cheung said parents had suggested other formats for the test, such as taking the test every other year, but the bureau had not listened. She added that the group would arrange a discussion with chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor about this issue.