Letters to the Editor, February 19, 2016

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 February, 2016, 4:28pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 February, 2016, 4:28pm

Doubts over standardised tests are valid

Lovelyn Wong (“Assessment serves useful purpose”, ­February 16) advises parents not to be too hasty in calling for an end to the Primary Three Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA).

Ms Wong argues that tests help reveal students’ weaknesses and helps teachers improve their instruction.

This argument has been used to justify increased testing in the US as well.

There is no ­evidence that it is true; in fact, studies done at the secondary school level comparing grades teachers give students and standardised tests show that grades are an excellent predictor of future academic success, and standardised tests do not add additional information.

There are, in addition, plausible reasons to think that ­teacher evaluation of students is ­better than standardised tests.

The repeated judgments of professionals who are with ­students every day is probably more valid than a test created by distant strangers and given only once.

Moreover, teacher evaluations of students are “multiple measures”, done by different teachers in different years, are closely aligned to the curriculum, and cover all subjects.

Arguments for giving ­students a standardised test must be accompanied by ­evidence showing that they do a better job than grades alone.

Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus, University of Southern California

Students put under a lot of pressure in HK

Students at local primary and secondary schools all have an enormous amount of homework to do and often have to stay up till late at night to finish it.

­Those secondary school students who have to study so late will ­often turn up to school feeling tired and will have difficulty concentrating on what their teacher is saying in class.

Many also have to attend ­tutorial classes and extracurricular activities which put them under pressure.

Also, with such a heavy workload, many of them do not have time to relax. They have to deal with this exhaustive ­schedule because they want to get a coveted place at a local ­university.

They see this as the means to having a good career, which will earn them a good salary and ­enable them to buy a home and take care of their parents.

Our youngsters are not ­robots. They should be allowed to spend more time relaxing.

I hope in future generations in Hong Kong, children will be ­allowed to grow up in a happier environment.

Jocelyn Fung, Tai Po

Independent probe into riot is essential

I agree that the violence ­displayed in Mong Kok on ­February 8 made it a sad day for Hong Kong .

I abhor violence and hope there could be more effort to have a violence-free society.

Violence is used to suppress opinion and both human and civil rights, as we have seen in ­territories and countries nearby.

Physical and non-physical ­violence are used by authorities, groups and individuals to ­suppress opposing views , and to control individuals, as is also seen sometimes in domestic ­relationships and in the traditional ­physical disciplining ­(actually ­assault) of children and young ­people.

Overseas use of independent inquiries has helped to improve the approaches of police and other agencies, for example in response to protests, domestic violence and child abuse.

Since the origin of the ­violence in Mong Kok and the background and behaviour of the individuals, and the process and response of the health ­inspectors, traffic and ­other ­police actions are ­muddied, an independent and public inquiry would be reassuring.

Mong Kok has a violent triad reputation and many suspect ­triad members were involved in the violence and also in infiltrating the Occupy movement in 2014 in Mong Kok.

An independent inquiry could establish the type of equipment, guidance and training most suited for police in such ­situations. The role and behaviour of the media could be ­assessed .

There have been assertions of “pro-independence groups” and calls from known self interested individuals for enactment of a totally unrelated Article 23.

Despite our many local so-called advisers to the mainland authorities, the apparent understanding and comments of the latter are unreal .

As we have seen with the Complaint Against Police Office and recent internal police investigations, the public will have little faith in a police-led inquiry , sadly likely to leave many critical questions unanswered .

A government interested in the truth would establish an independent and public inquiry which could call for information from a wider variety of sources.

Tom Mulvey, Wan Chai

Grandstanding by some people not helpful

I would like to thank Keane Shum for his excellent article on the Mong Kok incident and its background (“Everybody loses”, February 17).

It set out perfectly the issues for those involved on both sides to appreciate.

Grandstanding by people who should know better may grab headlines and serve certain masters but is no substitute for careful consideration of the issues and the implementation of resulting thoughtful policies and behaviour.

Jeremy Newton, Happy Valley

Mong Kok resembled a war zone

The actions of the protesters on the first day of Lunar New Year were inappropriate and extreme.

Parts of Mong Kok resembled burning war zones, with rampaging protesters damaging public property and fighting ­battles with police who were outnumbered.

They were objecting to the eviction of unlicensed food hawkers, but this was not the right way for them to express their dissatisfaction.

There were complaints about a police officer firing warning shots into the air. However, if protesters had acted in a ­peaceful ­manner, he would not have had to ­discharge his ­weapon.

The officers at that location were outnumbered and had no anti-riot gear.

It is ridiculous for any ­activists to justify the throwing of bricks at officers as a way to ­express their anger over issues. Such actions could have had serious consequences. An officer could have been killed.

Hong Kong is a thriving ­metropolis and I do not want to see a repeat of this riot.

Tina Yeung, Kwai Chung

A simple way to clear MTR platforms faster

I refer to Peter Lok’s letter (“Escalator walkers ­beware”, February 14) in reply to my letter (“Insult to the intelligence of HK public”, February 3).

Like your correspondent, I get peeved, but by those rare ­individuals who obey these inane announcements to stand firm in the left-hand walking file on MTR escalators.

God gave us legs and walking is the most fundamental movement for humans, and it is not a dangerous activity, and does not require a high degree of fitness.

Peter Lok is illogical in his opinion that walking reduces throughput on escalators. It is obvious that the movement on the left-hand lane clears the concourse and platform areas faster, and reduces queuing time.

This really should be a non-subject as the established ­convention has been successfully operating since 1979. The MTR has no data to convince us why this time-honoured practice suddenly needs revision.

One suspects that an insurance company or an overactive PR department is behind these unnecessary and annoying instructions. These announcements are treating the travelling public as imbeciles and are making the ­escalators less safe, because ­people like Mr Lok feel they can assertively block the customary left side.

If an announcement must be made, it is sufficient to instruct people to “hold the handrails”.

Charlie Chan, Mid-Levels

Aim for much greener Lunar New Year

So many people still lack awareness about the importance of environmental protection.

The environmental problems that we face globally are mounting.

We are mistreating our planet and this is resulting in global warming, acid rain and extreme weather conditions. And we are still all so wasteful. As individuals, we can act to help reduce such levels of waste.

Large volumes of waste are generated during special festivals. Many citizens buy plastic and paper decorations for Lunar New Year and then discard them a few days after the festival has ended. Also, they buy presents and have them wrapped.

The Lunar New Year is important, but there is more we can do to minimise the harm done to the environment. We can store decorations and use them the following year and give presents unwrapped.

There are other things we can do throughout the year, such as ­cutting back on excessive use of electricity. Many Hongkongers keep air cons on longer than is necessary and ­have lights on in rooms that are unoccupied. We should switch off electrical appliances when they are not needed.

If we all make such small ­actions into regular habits, it can collectively make a big difference.

Helen Nguyen, Sham Shui Po