Teachers must not bear the whole burden

It appears that many of the Native English-speaking Teachers (NETs) who have negative opinions on Hong Kong's education system teach in lower-band schools, and that many of the complaints stem from the fact that the methods in which the students are being taught does not meet their needs.

As one of the teachers wrote: they are being prepared for exams that the majority have no hope of passing. Can we then blame the students for not being interested? We know that children's needs are different, and that different needs should be addressed in different ways.

Yet our system teaches Band One to Band Five students the same way, uses the same syllabi, assigns a NET teacher to each school, gives primary schools 40 computers and secondary schools 80 computers.

Is it possible that for some schools, it may be better to simply forget about public exams and focus on getting the students interested in learning first? Is it possible that for some schools, the money used to purchase 40 computers could be better used in training teachers in the use of computers first? Is it possible that for some schools, animated movies in English may be a more effective means of improving students' English? Who has the authority to make those decisions? Who has the courage to do so? I do believe that the majority of teachers are genuinely interested in helping their students learn. But they have to be given the appropriate incentives, guidance, and support.

It is not enough to say to them, 'You are encouraged to adapt the teaching to the needs of the students as long as you cover the specified syllabus, give them the prescribed amount of homework, grade the homework, and take sole responsibility when it does not work.' If it is always the front-line teachers who take responsibility for being innovative, why do we need policy makers and administrators? STEPHEN CHAN University lecturer Sha Tin