Online Letters, December 26, 2017
Pupils can benefit in school from using e-textbooks
Some people are sceptical about the increasing use of e-textbooks and e-learning in schools, but I think they can be effective and help pupils. They are also useful for adults in various ways.
This form of education has so much potential and we should not just focus on the cost issue, for example, of purchasing a computer or buying material online. Young people can gain from e-learning in so many ways if it is fully utilised by teachers.
For pupils e-learning offers unlimited resources which are not available with traditional textbooks. It also helps students at universities and people in the business world.
When using e-textbooks pupils may have to be adaptable and approach the learning process in a more flexible way. In the past they bought a textbook and during the course of the year might be expected to read it from start to finish. With e-learning, they can study in a different way. They can look at various e-books, just calling up and reading the relevant sections. And they can enhance the learning experience by finding other material online, such as graphics and videos, which help them to have a deeper understanding of their subject.
Young people in some remote parts of countries, who might have difficulty getting hold of a printed textbook, can now access it online. As long as the school makes sure there are computers they can use in class, this creates a more level playing field for everyone.
It is impossible to say how the internet will affect the learning process in the future, but I hope that it will be largely positive and progressive and actually benefit young people from different backgrounds.
Jenny Sit, Tiu Keng Leng
Hong Kong could become a bike-friendly city
Compared to cities in other countries, Hong Kong is not a cycle-friendly city and every year many cyclists are killed or injured on our roads.
The best way to make cycling safer is for the government to provide more cycling tracks. Of course, officials will argue that it is difficult to do this because Hong Kong is crowded and small, with only limited land and there is not enough rooms to expand the bicycle track network.
However, the effort should be made to enlarge it where possible and to learn from places like Taiwan. In its cities it has created many bike lanes including dual use pavements and dedicated bike paths along rivers. These tracks are restricted to cyclists and so this makes them a lot safer as they are not sharing the space with pedestrians and vehicles. I would like to see a strategy being implemented which enables cyclists to safely reach all parts of Hong Kong.
Adopting such a policy would not just be good for citizens. It would also be popular with tourists who enjoy getting around on bikes. And of course, cycling is an environmentally-friendly activity. I hope the government can adopt measures soon which turn Hong Kong into a bike-friendly city.
Prudence Mak, Yau Yat Chuen
Cyclists should take all necessary safety precautions
There is a growing trend for people to lead greener lives and cycling is seen is the most environmentally-friendly form of transport. It is a healthy way to get to your destination and you help to keep the air clean in your hometown. However, in Hong Kong the government does not have policies in place which benefit cyclists.
Cyclists who take to the roads are at risk of being involved in an accident, but sometimes they have no choice, because there is only a limited number of cycle tracks. There is a lack of awareness among drivers in Hong Kong of cyclists and their needs compared to other cities where far more bicycles can be seen in urban areas.
Some cyclists are also at fault as they fail to take sensible and necessary precautions. I often seen them without helmets and knee pads, so it is hardly surprising that the accident rate is quite high if they do not protect themselves.
I would like to see more dedicated cycle tracks in the city. If cyclists are separated from other traffic, especially large vehicles like lorries, then we will see a reduction in accident statistics and the riding experience will be more pleasant for cyclists.
Officials should recognise that introducing bike-friendly policies will be good for the environment.
Ruby Ng, Kowloon Tong
So many foreign domestic helpers have raw deal
The minimum allowable wage for foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong is only HK$4,010 which is too low. If the government does not raise it, then eventually Hong Kong will lose out to other cities and countries which will offer better pay and conditions.
Also, when you consider the rate of inflation, the wage these helpers are paid is not enough, because they also have to buy necessities in Hong Kong. Even though their employers provide their meals, they still have to buy food on their days off, which is every Sunday and public holidays.
Also, a lot of these helpers are told they must be on call 24 hours a day. They often face such a heavy workload, doing virtually everything for the employer’s family, including housework, cooking and taking care of children, elderly relatives and even pets. If there is a young baby crying at night some helpers might be told they have to get up and comfort it. This means that they do not get enough sleep.
The government must ensure, through tougher laws and monitoring, that helpers get at least seven hours of break time every evening.
These helpers need to be given more protection by the government and they deserve better working conditions.
Ng Tsz-wing, Tseung Kwan O
Tight gun control laws long overdue in US
The deadliest mass shooting committed by an individual in US history, in Las Vegas in October, led to renewed calls for much tougher gun control laws in the country.
I appreciate there are serious obstacles to making this happen, such as the strong pro-gun lobby, but I think tighter gun controls are needed as soon as possible in America.
There have been so many tragedies caused by shooters in the country, including in colleges and schools, with many innocent people killed or injured. It is impossible for police to prevent all gun attacks and with so many incidents concerns have been raised about security in the country.
Whenever efforts are made to pass tougher gun laws they meet resistance in Congress from Republicans and even some Democrats. This makes it very easy for virtually any citizen to own a firearm, so long as they can afford to go to a gun shop and buy it. So it is hardly surprising that mass shootings like the one in Las Vegas happen.
I can understand why in earlier, violent times, many Americans felt the need to defend themselves by owning a gun, but those threats are historical and do not exist now. In an orderly society like the US citizens do not need a gun to protect themselves.
Despite resistance from various quarters, laws imposing tighter controls on gun ownership should be introduced.
Tang Chun-kit, Tsuen Wan