THE local education system causes frustration among students rather than building up their confidence, thus prompting parents to send their children abroad for studies, according to an educationist. Dean of Faculty of Education of the University of Hong Kong Cheng Kai-ming, said the increase in number of students seeking education overseas was a matter of concern. In the 1980s, about 2.1 per cent of young people studied at one of the local universities and only those who failed to be admitted sought education outside Hong Kong, according to Mr Cheng. 'Now the percentage is 18, with about four to five per cent going elsewhere to further their studies. 'Those who can afford an overseas education are leaving the territory, including the best students.' Mr Cheng was speaking at a recent symposium on 'Youth Work in the 21st Century - Changes and Development'. 'We should ask ourselves why parents are losing confidence in the local education system and why the best students are leaving the territory. 'Our education system does not build up students' confidence, instead, it causes frustration,' he said. Although educationists were aware of the need for compulsory education, Mr Cheng said they were psychologically not prepared for its introduction in 1978. 'In theory, we knew that youths should study, but we didn't know what to give them.' He said the local education system had not witnessed any changes in teachers' training, teachers' concept of education and the curriculum since 1978, except for copying parts of the Western education system. 'In education, there are no cross-cultural standards because different cultures have different values and assumptions.' He said while the Government considered knowledge and skills as the goals of education, the Chinese culture valued hard work more than ability, creating confusion among young people. 'We teach them knowledge and skills in school, but our culture stresses hard work more than ability. Some students can work hard and do well in school. But what about the others? How can we help them? 'Even the United States seems to have failed to find a way to correct the drawbacks in its education system, so following the Western education system will take us nowhere.' Mr Cheng added that the local education system seemed to pay more attention to special school students than band five students. He urged all sectors of the community to give ideas to help facilitate changes in the education system. The symposium was organised by the Children and Youth Division of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service.