Success requires more than just passing exams
While the 11 top scorers in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination were basking in glory after receiving their hard-earned results on Wednesday, another student stole the media limelight. Neither a high-flier from an elite school nor the prodigy of a wealthy family, Josy Chow Pui-shan, 21, made the headlines for her remarkable achievement. Hospitalised and wheelchair-bound for years because of a muscular degenerative disease, she scored high enough marks to qualify for university admission.
Josy was among the 1,746 candidates with special needs who sat this year's exams. Paralysed and with just two fingers to use, she studied with all the materials scanned into a computer and had to take the exams orally. But her efforts have paid off. She completed six subjects and scored a mark of 21. That she has defied her illness for all these years is perhaps a medical miracle. But her success owes much to her perseverance and monumental will to achieve. Hers is not the only inspiring story. Suffering from a brain disease that impairs mobility and coordination, Leung Ka-fai, 24, did not perform as impressively as Josy. Despite scoring only five points, he remains optimistic about his future. Education, he said, was only one aspect of his life. His options, he says, are wide open.
There is, indeed, a world of opportunity for school leavers. The various degree, sub-degree and vocational training places on offer add up to 78,000, more than enough for this year's pool of candidates. But the reality is that degree courses offered by government-funded universities are still the most sought after. While some 40 per cent of the 74,131 candidates have achieved the minimum requirement for university admission, only half of them will eventually secure a place. As long as there are exams, there will be triumph and sorrow. But one setback does not make a life-long loser, nor does success rest on exam results alone. The door to a good future does not close because of failure to get into university.