Letters to the Editor, March 6, 2018
Restrict Hong Kong DSE fee waiver to genuine pupils
The 2018-19 Hong Kong budget has sparked red-hot debate on the fee exemption announced for the 2019 DSE (Diploma of Secondary Education) exam. As a pupil sitting the exam next year, I do not consider it a wise and effective step to help young Hongkongers.
This may cause unnecessary wastage of public money, if private candidates take the exam just because it is free, as a trial, or just “for fun”, as some internet users have said they will do.
This goodwill gesture is estimated to cost HK$180 million. This amount can be better allocated to other burning teen issues, such as tackling “hidden youth” – who are neither in education nor in employment, and may be socially isolated. That would be much more meaningful.
More importantly, the waiver could affect the fairness of the school-leaving exam.
Secondary school pupils have spent six years gearing up to strive for the best grades in the DSE, often seen as the entrance ticket to university and decent jobs, and every candidate deserves a fair shot. It would be unfair to day-school pupils if their performance is skewed by private candidates, especially in the oral exams.
Six years of toil would then be in vain. I truly hope that the government can reconsider the target group of the one-off policy, and narrow it down to pupils only.
Ethan Cheung, Tsuen Wan
School-leavers not only ones in need of help
The Hong Kong government plans to pay the DSE exam fees for every candidate in 2019. This is a confusing policy. I do not understand why this particular group has been selected as the target of this large government subsidy.
I believe it gives the public the wrong impression that only those who are eligible for the DSE next year deserve to receive financial support from the government.
Also, pupils from low-income families are already covered in existing government subsidy schemes, for example, those run by the Working Family and Student Financial Assistance Agency.
The latest budget from Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po also announced a one-off grant of HK$2,000 to each student in need.
The government may consider providing learning subsidies to all families with children in local schools. This would alleviate the financial burden of parents and ensure that every family is benefited by the policy. Moreover, this would address the government’s goal of sharing economic benefits with every member of the public.
Henry Hui, Tseung Kwan O
City needs more hospitals, not cash handouts
I wonder why so many are calling for cash handouts in the budget; is no one is thinking about what is good for us in the long term?
A cash handout, even if it is HK$10,000, will last for just a while and then it’s back to the pavilion.
Instead of spending the surplus in this way, why not build new hospitals? Our existing hospitals are clearly struggling to cater to a growing and ageing population, with A& E waits of between 8 and 12 hours, and doctors and nurses under immense pressure amid chronic staff shortage.
Appointments for regular follow-ups take three to four months while scans and other investigations take years. This is a shame in a modern city like Hong Kong.
M. Ishaque, Chai Wan
Homework fever fuelled by pushy parents
I was shocked to learn that more than half of Hong Kong primary pupils get at least seven assignments daily. Granted, Hong Kong is a competitive society, but to put children under so much pressure this early in life is inexplicable.
I think schools fall over themselves trying to prove to parents that their particular institute is “better” than the rest. But they can’t tell the difference between “quantity” and “quality ”.
Also, when parents have high expectations of their children, they think more homework translates to better academic results.
Thus, cutting down the volume of homework makes a school less attractive to ambitious and pushy “monster” parents who wring their hands in angst and worry if their child does not outdo the neighbours’.
Parents exacerbate the problem by driving the pupils to tutorial centres which unload further homework on the youngsters.
Besides, it does not help that the examination system in Hong Kong has been constructed for the ease and benefit of schools and teachers, and panders to the insecurities of helicopter parents.
Primary school pupils are under pressure to remember vocabulary. These days, children have to do what is called pre-learning, where they have to study chapters of the textbook before it is taught in class.
I don’t think young pupils need to face this kind of stress.
It is the duty of the government and parents to take the pressure off these pupils, and ensure that they can enjoy their childhood.
Walter Chong, Hang Hau
Toxic or benign, friends are always friends
I refer to the article on toxic friends (“With friends like these”, March 5), which tells us how to pull the plug on unhealthy relationships.
While some friends may have a negative effect on us, and cause us stress, is that enough reason to classify such friendships as toxic?
I don’t think we should turn away from a friend just because they don’t bring us benefits. If the friendship is indeed going “toxic”, rather than keep our distance, we should open up to that person about our feelings. We should try our best to maintain and cherish our friendships, not abandon them when the going gets tough.
Donald Chan, Tseung Kwan O