Online Letters, May 30, 2017

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 May, 2017, 5:06pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 May, 2017, 5:06pm

Assessment system puts students under a lot of pressure

The school-based assessment (SBA) has caused a lot of problems for secondary students in local schools in Hong Kong.

The assessment is done in core and elective subjects. It is important, because the results will be counted as part of the overall Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exam result.

This adds to the pressure youngsters already face from all the exams and tests they have to sit. The original intention of the SBA was for the students to learn more outside a classroom environment. It would encourage them to read additional material and learn more about society. But now it has just become an extension of the DSE and a cause of stress as students fear they will not get good enough grades. In a desperate attempt to improve their DSE result they work so hard at the SBAs that often they have little time for rest and leisure.

The SBA also puts pressure on teachers as they have to help students with their preparation. They are already stretched dealing with the syllabus in the classroom and marking papers and so the SBAs add to their already heavy workload. The SBA can actually be a distraction for teachers and force them to go quickly through some aspects of the syllabus which means that in the end students learn less.

You do not have to do an SBA for all subjects but they do apply to all core subjects and students who are not good at them will be at a disadvantage. The SBAs could lower their overall DSE results.

Whatever the original purposes of the SBAs might have been, they are now a source of stress for students and a hindrance rather than a help.

Gordon Lam Lok-yu, Sai Ying Pun

Parental support so important for troubled children

I agree with a local psychologist that family support is the most effective way to help with teenage problems (“Parents should be in front line in caring for Hong Kong children with emotional problems, expert says”, May 22).

Young people may feel suicidal for a number of reasons, including exam-oriented culture where good results are so important and if they are victims of bullying at school or online. In these situations, parents can play a vital role when it comes to counselling.

Children here have to cope with a spoon-feeding education system. Many of them have to attend a lot of extracurricular activities and tutorial classes, to get better results or in an effort to get a place at a top secondary school and then a local university. Parents should not try to force their children to meet their high expectations. Also, they should show they care and always keep the lines of communication open. They should show understanding if their sons and daughters complain about their workload.

Parents also need to make sure their children take care when using the internet and do not give out personal information online. This can make them susceptible to cyberbullying which can leave teenagers socially excluded and have a devastating effect on them psychologically.

Of course, the government must do all it can to curb cyberbullying and punish the culprits, but it is the parents who can do the one-on-one counselling that children who are victims will need.

Jessica Ng Sze-man,Yau Yat Chuen

Government should support under-threat bookshops

Bookshops are struggling to survive in Hong Kong. The most recent example is FlowBooks in Causeway Bay. The store which offers second-hand English books used crowdfunding to try and raise the money needed to prevent closure.

I think the plight of these businesses is a reflection of the decline of our reading culture in Hong Kong, a decline that has been taking place over a number of years.

It is difficult in this day and age for bookshops to survive in the city and they cannot expect to get any support from the government. They face a number of obstacles including soaring rents. Also, the Education Bureau has not done enough to encourage young people to read more.

However, another factor is related to the reading habits of Hongkongers. A public library survey showed that of the top 10 books borrowed, one was a Diploma of Secondary

Education textbook and the other nine were to do with travel. This would indicate that people are reading when they have to rather than for pleasure.

I urge Hongkongers to start reading more and to support independent bookshops in the city like FlowBooks.

Jessica Lo, Kowloon City

Uber must be allowed to operate legally in Hong Kong

I agree with those who say that Uber should be legal in Hong Kong. It is offering people another transport option so they can get to their destination.

And it is so simple, because they can order through an app on their smartphones. This is more convenient than a taxi as it is often difficult to book one. Also, Uber’s charges are reasonable. People do not have to wait in a long line or hail it from the pavement and Uber drivers will come to any location at the appointed time, even during the rush hour.

Citizens can only benefit from the government changing its policy towards car-hailing apps like Uber.

Coco Yu Ho-yan, Yau Yat Chuen

Locally-made TV programmes face grim future

Most Hongkongers seldom watch the drama series produced by TVB. They would prefer to watch the series that come from overseas, such as the US, Korea and Japan. And they would also prefer to view videos online.

Nowadays, I think it is mostly elderly citizens who switch on to these TVB programmes and often that is because of nostalgia; they want to revisit the classic TV series they enjoyed when they were younger and that are repeated on the channel. Some of these dramas, often in black and white, were very well made. The ones produced now are not nearly as good.

We are all very busy with only limited free time and youngsters find the internet more convenient and more interesting than anything TVB has to offer.

Also, current affairs programmes on local channels are limited in scope and tend not be critical of the government. By going online you can find more material and it can be critical and controversial.

TVB executives must be aware of the station’s drop in popularity, so why don’t they do something about it? They should be trying to attract fresh talent so they can produce good new series that will prove to be popular with local viewers.

For example, a lot of drama series from the US contain action scenes which are well made, such as Marvel Agents of Shield. Also, the content is strong. TVB brought out a drama series with supposedly a lot of action and special effects, Captain of Destiny, but it was not well received by viewers. Romantic dramas made here are inferior to what comes out of Korea. TVB sometimes tries to copy what has been done so well in countries like Korea, but fails.

We have few free-to-air channels and what is needed is more competition. This could help to raise standards.

There is also a lack of fresh acting talent. It is an unstable profession and so some young people who might want to become actors are reluctant to take the risk and face opposition from their parents. And some established actors here will go north of the border where there is a bigger market and more work.

If the government and the TV companies do not feel they have a responsibility to try and make improvements and revive the quality of the local TV industry then I think this valuable part of our cultural heritage will disappear.

Leung Shun-hei, Hung Hom