ANY attempt to reduce the amount of homework imposed upon Hongkong's students will be welcomed by parents, teachers and pupils alike. Prompted by the number of child suicides apparently caused by the pressures of school, the Education Department has finally woken up to the need for reform by moving away from traditional rote-learning. Today's youngsters have enough to worry about without having to memorise countless dates, names and other details that add nothing to their understanding or appreciation of the world. Too much pointless homework and cramming, the Government believes, stifles creativity and could ruin young lives. The Education Department now has to get the message across to teachers, raised in the traditional rote-learning system themselves, that children are better off with materials designed to stimulate their natural inquisitiveness and critical abilities. Teachers are being asked to make learning a pleasant and enjoyable experience and to use textbooks with imagination and discretion. The Education Department must give educationalists the support they need to change their own attitudes about teaching. But educationalists must tread carefully. Easing pressure and introducing flexibility all too often serve as excuses for tolerating laziness and lack of mental discipline. It would be a great loss to Hongkong if a more relaxed schooling system led to falling educational standards.