A-levels are failing to equip students either for university or work and should be abolished, according to an academic. Tang Shing-fung, lecturer in the Department of Chinese at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, was speaking at the 16th Annual Conference on Exploring New Frontiers in Education, held at the institute. He said matriculation studies no longer achieved their original objectives of helping students integrate smoothly into tertiary education or training them to fill the needs of society. Secondary school was a place to disseminate general knowledge, while tertiary institutions placed their emphasis on conveying professional knowledge. A-levels were supposed to bridge the gap and prepare top students for the move to university. However, although a higher proportion of students were studying in Form Six and getting into university, A-levels were a waste of time for those who failed to get into university, Mr Tang said. The A-level curriculum was designed for further studies, not for work. 'The current educational system lacks vision and the curriculum is too confined,' he said. 'The original goal of schooling was to learn how to learn. But our children turn out to have less enjoyment in learning. Their enthusiasm in pursuing knowledge has been suppressed and they are too exhausted in the exam- oriented system. 'It is much worse in matricu lation. It requires students to make a wholehearted effort in prepar ing for the Ad vanced Level Ex aminations and it never touches on vocational training. Howev er, the fact is that more than half the students have to go to work after the completion of the two-year matriculation.' In addition, universities now put greater emphasis on all- round education, which meant matriculation studies had even less value, he said. 'Nowadays, universities aim to foster students to have multiple intelligences. Making general education as important as specialisation is the trend,' he said. 'Moreover, language is another area that tertiary education emphasises nowadays.' Because of these changes, there was no point in keeping matriculation studies, he said. The entire curriculum needed to be reformed. Secondary school should be a place to provide students with a general education and equip them with some basic skills to allow them to stand on their own two feet, he said. 'More choices should be given to stu dents in second ary schooling in order to give them more flexi bility as well a glimpse of differ ent subjects,' he said. 'Vocational training should be included in the curriculum because most students have to go to work after completing Form Five or matriculation.'