Hong Kong’s hi-tech ambitions cannot fly without maths focus
Recently, there have been calls to develop the innovation and technology sector to enhance the competitiveness of Hong Kong’s economy. To this end, the government has introduced different policies, such as new listing rules. However, the issue of mathematics education, which is key to providing talents to support the development of this new industry, is being ignored.
All older students have to study maths under the New Senior Secondary curriculum. Apart from the compulsory class, two electives – calculus and statistics for Module 1, and algebra and calculus for Module 2 – are offered for more able students.
However, there have been persistent complaints about the declining maths ability of new university entrants. The flawed, overly trimmed syllabus contributes to the miserable situation.
Unlike the previous system, where students could study both pure and applied maths, strong students are not allowed to take both elective modules. So, if you study Module 1, you won't learn about matrix, linear equations and asymptote, which are covered in Module 2. Will what’s left be enough for undergraduate study?
Moreover, as the two modules aren't de jure subjects, many faculties don't consider the result of these elective modules during admission. If the importance of these two subjects are ignored by the universities, will our students spend extra time studying the modules? This explains the declining number of candidates who take the Diploma in Secondary Education exam in the two elective maths modules.
The Education Bureau should introduce an additional maths subject, which includes items in the two current modules. However, the bureau has recently moved to remove some important topics in Module 1, but not to introduce a new elective subject. As a result, students will learn less than before.
If our students have no grasp of advanced mathematics, the fundamental skill of science, we should not expect the technology industry to be prosperous in our city. However, it seems that our government fails to appreciate this.
Henry Wong, Kennedy Town