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Hong Kong schools

Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung blocks Carrie Lam’s pledge to scrap TSA

Soon-to-be leader says she will do her best to abolish assessments after taking office

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 March, 2017, 11:27pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 March, 2017, 10:57am

Hong Kong’s new leader in waiting, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s education policy faced its first setback yesterday when the incumbent chief executive refused to heed her calls to drop the unpopular territory-wide assessments for Primary Three pupils.

Leung Chun-ying said scrapping the scheme could only happen after June 30, when his term of government comes to an end.

It’s the second time since Sunday, when Lam was elected as the next chief executive, that the duo – once said to be on good terms – were seen to be at odds.

Trust, not tests, is the real issue with TSA

Critics accused Leung of intentionally embarrassing his successor and giving her a hard time.

In her victory speech on Sunday, Lam vowed to “heal the social divide”. But the following day, the government pressed charges against nine key players in the 2014 Occupy protests, immediately sparking controversy over the timing of the decision from Leung’s government. Others said the chief executive was only trying to help by doing the unpleasant task before Lam took over.

But Lam was dealt yet another setback yesterday when Leung speaking ahead of an Executive Council meeting that he would not consider scrapping the much-criticised Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) within his term.

“I believe that even if it will be scrapped, it will only happen after July 1,” he said.

Meanwhile, sticking to her campaign promise, Lam told a ­local radio station that she hoped to liaise with Leung’s government on the abolition of the test for this year, which is set for May.

“I have said it [would be scrapped], so, [having the test this year] is rather meaningless,” she said.

Asked if she was embarrassed during another radio interview, Lam said: “If the current government thinks it is too difficult to execute [the suspension], I will respect its decision. Before July 1, the current government will be responsible for all the policies and the execution of them. I shall do what I can do for the next school year after I assume office.”

Lam Tai-fai, supervisor of Lam Tai Fai College and a delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, expressed “extreme disappointment” at Leung’s position.

“The current government has only a few months to go. It now pushes ahead a policy that will be scrapped several months later by the next government,” he said.

Revamped tests extended to all Hong Kong primary schools

“It will only confuse schoolchildren and parents and does no good to the development of schools and students.”

Anti-TSA Alliance spokeswoman Annie Cheung Yim-shuen, said they would call on parents to boycott the test.

“Leung only wants to show Lam that he is the boss and he is still calling the shots for the next few months,” she said.

The TSA was designed to measure competence in order to improve learning and teaching. But parents have complained that it places too much pressure on ­pupils.

It was suspended last year amid fierce public opposition, and is being replaced by the Basic Competency Assessment (BCA) test, which critics say is the same.

The Education Bureau said the BCA was not the same as the TSA, but an improved scheme. “The results [this year] can serve as good reference for the next term of government,” the bureau said.