Unqualified, untrained teachers are unsuitable as educators I am writing with reference to your article on the new Independent Schools Foundation Academy (ISF) being set up in Wan Chai (Education Post, June 28). While I applaud anyone having the courage to establish a school which incorporates flexible timetabling, ability grouping and continuous assessment, I was frankly appalled at the admission that many of the teachers are untrained. As a teacher with 20 years experience in three different countries, the last five in Hong Kong, I feel I am able to make a valued statement regarding this matter. For the last academic year I have been teaching alongside graduates who are untrained teachers in a school much like those in the article and I have made a few observations. Untrained teachers have difficulty with: Planning effective lessons - the aims and objectives of learning are not clear; Classroom control - classroom tone and how to deal with behaviour problems. Professional attitude - most see teaching as a set of rules for students but do not understand teachers' obligations. Child development - difficulty understanding the range of learning behaviours which fall within 'normal' parameters. Social development - those who have not studied child behaviour tend to make more judgments about the children and let personal feelings intervene with their teaching. Curriculum - it is extremely difficult for a trained person to work on topic planning with those who have limited knowledge about the range of activities which can be incorporated. Assessment - unless this is very clearly set out they are unable to ascertain what exactly it is they are looking at, and even then, they may have difficulty being objective about it. Curriculum - trained teachers understand the ramifications of the curriculum of the country in which they are teaching. I would also ask if anyone would consider as their doctor a receptionist with a 'love of medicine' who thought that on-the-job training was sufficient for good health care. Why should our children settle for anything less than the best education has to offer? NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED Better days for South Asian girls The recent School Days article (Education Post, July 19), in which some of the recollections from my student days in the 1970s were covered, brought into sharp focus just how much the situation has changed since then. Today there is certainly no shortage of role models for young South Asian girls. One has only to look at the legal profession; medicine, the IT industry; education; journalism and the finance sector (to name but a few) to see that these professions have many highly qualified young women from the Indian sub-continent among their ranks. Many of them, to their credit, also manage to combine a successful career with a rewarding family life. Higher education is now accepted as a worthwhile adjunct to traditional family responsibilities and a growing number of parents actively encourage their daughters to obtain not only the best education possible, but also provide the moral and financial support which allows them to study overseas to do so. I must confess that even now when I lecture law students I smile inwardly when I see the large and ever-increasing number of South Asian girls in the audience. VANDANA RAJWANI, Mid-Levels. Focus on whole person, not grades I am writing with reference to the arguments offered by the chairwoman of the Hong Kong Subsidised Secondary Schools Council, Anissa Chan Wong Lai-kuen, in the article headlined 'Expanded university admission is opposed' (South China Morning Post, July 19). Dr Chan said that by cutting one year off the current curriculum of seven-year secondary schooling early admission to university (EAS) would lead to lower forms focusing their studies on early admission. She also said this would lead to whole-person development becoming a slogan rather than a reality and that students who failed to qualify for the EAS would be demoralised and rate themselves as 'second class'. Dr Chan's arguments overlook the fact that colonial Hong Kong adopted a pyramid structure for the education system - the further up the ladder of higher learning, the fewer the places. Without a parallel development enabling students to be promoted there will always be a need for examinations designed more as a barrier to control the quota than leading to whole-person development. Educators should focus on bringing about a parallel education development in Hong Kong to ease the pressure on students working in a deficient system. Only then would whole-person development become a reality in schools and the 'second class' be eliminated. JOHN YUAN, Shanghai.