The received wisdom is that, as teachers spend more time dealing with low-level indiscipline, teaching and learning time will be cut. But how bad is the situation? An as-yet unpublished study commissioned by the Board of Education is expected to show shocking results in students' academic performance. The study, conducted by the Chinese University's Faculty of Education, will show that the seed of low achievement can be sown as early as Primary Two. Researchers have derived methods to measure how much Hong Kong students are learning. In the worst cases, pupils took in less than 10 per cent of what was taught in Primary Two and Three classes. Dr Wong Hin-wah, who conducted the study, with the aim of reviewing nine-year compulsory education, said: 'Before, we had tests and exams to screen out students with poor academic results, now we have nine-year compulsory education. 'The system has changed. But teachers haven't, and neither has the curriculum. Before a teacher's role was merely to teach. It was the student's responsibility to learn. If a student was not learning, he would be screened out.' According to Dr Wong, because exams are no longer used to screen out non-performers, teachers should instead use them to find out if a student is learning. 'If they are not, you should help them. Some teachers, instead of encouraging students, will scold them when they fail. 'I believe nine-year compulsory education is a meaningful thing. But help should be given early, when pupils encounter problems in Primary Two or Three. One basic presumption is children do like to learn. They are curious. They ask questions. 'If you offer them help early enough, they will learn. The worst 20 per cent of Primary Two and Three children in the study take in between one-tenth and one-eighth of what is taught in classes. This shows resources have been wasted.' Dr Wong said the curriculum needs restructuring so pupils do not lose interest. 'Some parents told me it was they who were doing the homework. But what about those parents who have no time to help?' This would mean re-directing resources in order to improve primary schools. 'In Hong Kong, if $20 is spent on secondary education, only $8 is spent on primary education. North American and European countries are investing more of their education funding in primary education.' According to Dr Wong, the funding situation puts primary schools at a disadvantage in recruitment. Job seekers prefer to join secondary schools which pay more. Yip Sau-wah of Sha Tin Tsung Tsin Secondary School describes classroom indiscipline and poor academic performance as two sides of the education coin. 'Students disrupt classes because they are bored. Students are bored because they do not understand what teachers are saying. Secondary schools with problems of classroom indiscipline are suffering the cumulative effect of long-term non-performance.'