Online Letters, September 19, 2017
Knowledge the most powerful weapon against injustice
In the 21st century people in many countries throughout the world continue to suffer from various kinds of violence and injustice.
Some of the worst violence has been in Syria where the war still rages after six years. There have been many atrocities including accusations that forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have used chemical weapons against civilians. All the civilians in that country want is a stable life free of war.
In all these wars in different continents it is always the innocent civilians who are the victims. As Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzi says, poverty, ignorance, injustice, racism and the deprivation of basic rights are the main problems faced by men and women globally.
Even where there is no war, children still suffer. In many countries, including India, among some poverty-stricken sections of the population there is still child labour. These children get no education and are often mistreated in the workplace. Also, in some countries, child marriage remains a problem and again these young people are deprived of a proper education and a decent life. So many young women throughout the world are deprived of even a basic education. They have no voice and the indifference of others ensures that nothing changes.
The most powerful weapon which can be used to make fundamental changes and improve the lot of these young people is knowledge. The only way underprivileged children can escape the cycle of poverty is through education. If they are given even basic schooling, they can be armed with knowledge which can give them a chance in life. A well-educated population is more likely to take stand against tyranny.
I do hope that as global citizens we can all strive towards a more peaceful world.
Clovis Wong, Tseung Kwan O
Strike deal with mainland authorities to end waste paper impasse
The problems recycling firms are experiencing, with waste paper piling up in the city, have been caused by the mainland authorities tightening the rules on the import of recycled waste.
It was suggested that there should be a ban on waste paper collection in the city until the matter was resolved. But if a ban was implemented what would we do with the huge volumes of waste paper that are generated in the city every month?
The Environmental Protection Department has freed up some sites for storage, but if the problem becomes protracted it is only a matter of time before large quantities of paper that could be recycled end up instead in landfills.
What needs to happen is that Hong Kong officials must sit down and talk with their counterparts on the mainland and find out what changes the recycling operators have to make here so that their material can once again cross the border. Arriving at a compromise can be a win-win situation.
Tse Hoi-tung, Kwai Chung
Youngsters are under so much pressure at school
I refer to the report (“Parents, pupils call for study cap to prevent suicides”, September 11).
It is heartbreaking to read about young people taking their own lives. It is difficult to imagine the kind of pressure that led them to make this tragic decision. However, there is no doubt that Hong Kong students have to endure very stressful conditions. They have a busy school day followed by homework in the evening, including, for example, doing assignments and revising for tests. They have to deal with so many different things and have only limited time. It can just get too much and some youngsters are pushed to the edge.
Education officials should reflect on what is happening. They should be asking themselves why so many young people are taking their own lives and what can be done to address the problem.
If the Education Bureau agreed to a study cap, restricting the number of hours youngsters spend on their studies every day, then I think students could experience a healthier and happier learning environment. Hopefully, we would then see a drop in the suicide rate.
Cheng Sin-hei, Tseung Kwan O
Exam-oriented education system is not helping students
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of Hong Kong students committing suicide. They are mostly teenagers and many found they could no longer cope with the stress caused by their studies.
Hong Kong is a knowledge-based economy requiring young people who have excelled academically and can join the ranks of the various professions needed to ensure the city remains prosperous. Therefore the focus in the education system is on exams and exam results.
Schools organise extension classes and tests and give students a lot of homework assignments in an effort to ensure as many of their students get good results. And you even see this emphasis being placed on test and exam results in primary schools. This often leaves youngsters with insufficient time to relax. They may not even have enough time to communicate with their parents.
This exam-oriented approach can actually be counterproductive. It leaves some students disillusioned and they lose the motivation to learn.
I think having a daily hours cap, with standard study hours set down, can help reduce students’ workload and the pressure they are under. They can then spend more time relaxing and so recharge their batteries. This means they are more likely to maintain better mental health.
It really comes down to trying to strike the right work-life balance. But as I say, this can only happen if changes are made to the education system in Hong Kong.
Kassandra Wong Hiu-tung, Hang Hau
Brownfield sites key to solving city’s housing woes
I refer to your editorial about the hostel which has beds that resemble the city’s notorious cage homes (“Hostel opens eyes to scourge of poverty”, September 5).
Although Hong Kong is one of the world’s major financial hubs, it is estimated that about 200,000 of Hong Kong’s 7.3 million citizens live in these cage homes. These are tiny cubicles and the living conditions are appalling.
This is a startling statistic and highlights the problem of poverty in our city. It shows that while many Hongkongers are very well off, large numbers of citizens continue live below the poverty line and have no choice but to rent one of these units.
Some people may think that this hostel can help travellers appreciate the problems of the needy, but even if it does, that won’t help those people who have to live in a cage home.
The only solution to the serious housing problems in Hong Kong is through more effective policies by the government. It must develop more brownfield sites for public housing.
Another reason many people cannot afford to leave a cage home is because they have a poor level of education and can only get the lowest-paid job. So the government has to introduce more vocational training courses so that these people can acquire the skills needed to get higher-paid jobs.
Melody Ho, Tseung Kwan O