A special effort is being made by schools on behalf of their pupils during the last academic year before Hong Kong returns to Chinese sovereignty. Apart from academic achievement and personal growth, many principals are placing an emphasis on current affairs so students can gain a better understanding of the 1997 handover. Queen's College has come up with a strategy based on four themes for the new school year. The school plans to continue its traditions, such as fostering discipline and academic excellence; encourage team work; help students to appreciate Hong Kong's history and culture and encourage students to look forward to 1997. Principal Lee Kar-hung told Young Post that the school would help students gain a better understanding of issues related to Hong Kong and China through extra-curricular activities such as writing and design competitions. Good citizenship and social responsibility are two of the principles being extolled by teachers at Kwun Tong Technical Institute. Principal Lawrence Chan Wan-ching said the institute's main goal was to provide technical training to pupils who have completed Form Three or Five and who wanted to learn practical skills to secure a job. 'However, it is also important for students to be responsible and mature,' Mr Chan said. 'So extra-curricular activities are a vital part of school life.' Mr Chan said leisure was an important part of a student's learning and personal growth. 'There are many different ways of learning, besides reading books and attending classes.' He believes that too many young people have become self-centred. But involvement in extra-curricular activities would teach them how to get along with others and encourage co-operation. Apart from personal development, the institute also hopes to alert students to their responsibilities towards the community. 'Students are required to attend civic education courses and the institute will launch campaigns, contests and exhibitions to help them learn more about the topic,' Mr Chan said. Pak Kau English School is determined to help students build self-confidence and improve their learning skills. 'Self-confidence is vital to students' personal growth and academic achievement,' principal Tam Man-kwan said. He told Young Post that there was a general misconception about students who have been labelled troublemakers or who had a poor academic record. Mr Tam said that as a result of such labels and stereotypes, students lost confidence and doubted their abilities. 'We will help them build up confidence by raising their interest in learning and by improving their learning skills, so they will achieve better results in their studies.' Mr Tam said the school plans to review its curriculum and to launch award programmes. 'Revising the curriculum to suit the students' needs and standards will raise their interest in learning,' he said. The principal added that once students had a taste of success they found study rewarding and enjoyable. The school plans to introduce projects such as the 'Book Report Programme' which aims to improve reading and writing skills by encouraging students to read more books during their leisure time.