The Education Department set up the Student Discipline Section (SDS) at the beginning of the new academic year to tackle discipline problems in secondary schools and improve teaching effectiveness. The working team of 10 professionals comprises psychologists, educational counsellors and teachers, as well as five support staff. 'Schools are concerned about student discipline, and that's why we set up this section,' said Chong Kwok-kit, principal education officer (services). 'If we can help the misbehaved students to adapt to the school environment, we can increase the effectiveness of education delivery.' The precise role of the section had not been finalised, although a framework had been set out as a starting point, he said. Mr Chong told Young Post that the first step would be to divide schools into two groups and provide general or intensive services. Hong Kong has 466 secondary schools, and had 45,945 full-time students the last academic year. 'In the coming school year, general services will be provided to 100 targeted schools, and intensive services to another 10,' Mr Chong said. The section's general services would provide guidance to schools and periodic regional seminars, Mr Chong said. 'Sometimes students within the same region have similar discipline problems, and the seminar would provide a chance for schools to share their experiences and strengthen their contact with each other.' On the other hand, he said, professionals would be sent into schools needing intensive services to talk with teachers and analyse the causes of misbehaviour. He said misbehaviour like smoking was deep-rooted, and finding the cause was essential. 'The team will divide the problems into different parts, such as why and when they exist, how they spread as well as how serious they are.' He said schools were welcome to contact the section for help. Is school discipline worse today than it ever was? 'Social culture, concepts and traditions change as does students' behaviour. The social environment and students' backgrounds are more complicated today, and students need more guidance when facing problems,' Mr Chong said. However, Florence Tang Siu-ling, a teacher for 12 years, said students' behaviour had worsened. 'Both the problem students and their schools need help, especially those schools categorised as band four or five.' Fung Kam-cheung, a geography teacher at Sha Tin Government Secondary School, said he had doubts as to the section's effectiveness with only a 15-staff team.