I refer to the letter from Umesh Kalro ('English first for better education', December 30). I strongly agree that Hong Kong's education system should be updated to meet with international standards.
The question my family in the US and myself are always asking is why the education system in Hong Kong has such a local approach. While inquiry-based learning is widely used worldwide, classes in Hong Kong are still sticking to the teach-and-learn approach. In local schools, teachers are rushing to complete what the curriculum requires, busy assigning homework and training the students for tests and assessments.
Bound by the tight schedule, teachers find they have no time to deal with questions, let alone time to start up out-of-curriculum knowledge-searching in response to students' inquiries.
My niece is studying in local Primary Two and she just cannot finish her homework before 10pm every night. She still needs to prepare for dictation and quizzes after that. She has no more motivation to read books after she has done all this work. I cannot understand why a student should have to spend a whole term studying only one set of textbooks, but ignore the books and boundless knowledge they can experience in daily life.
This is maybe the reason why middle-class parents tend to send their children to international schools in Hong Kong, despite the higher fees. I was told that English Schools Foundation primary schools have to turn down hundreds of applications every year. Some of the families send their child to two different international kindergartens in the hope of getting a place in one of the international primary schools. This is a trend that should not be ignored by government officials.
If an international school is another way out, the government should provide more support to families. Solid measures could include more land grants to international schools and increasing subsidies to students. The government should keep an open mind when determining education policy, while the mainstream schools must be reformed. Other schools with parental support should also be fostered.
We all want our next generation to be equipped as world citizens with strong global views. Our education system should be aligned with international standards. Our society needs to invest for future generations.
Bonnie Lai, Sha Tin