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Hong Kong schools

Lonely and isolated: why Hong Kong’s gifted students need a helping hand

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 June, 2018, 10:31am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 June, 2018, 10:31am

I believe comparatively little attention has been paid to Hong Kong’s gifted education system, leading to a lack of support for our exceptionally talented children.

The only existing official authority for gifted education is the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education. Other advanced education programmes are usually powered by local universities based on school nomination, such as the University of Hong Kong’s Academy for the Talented.

Such schemes are essential in helping gifted students to learn at a suitable pace, with peers and tutors that understand their learning and social needs. A lack of suitable education for gifted young minds will become a hindrance not only for their personal growth but also our city’s development, as talent cannot be properly nurtured.

It is understandable that the government will give priority to tackling the education problems affecting the most vulnerable students. But public misconceptions about gifted students may also be a factor leading to the neglecting of their needs.

Five myths of giftedness in children

Most people believe that gifted children are simply lucky – they are born with natural intelligence and can easily outsmart their peers. The truth is, they are often extremely lonely, as they often find it difficult to communicate with their peers and are misunderstood.

Even gifted students don’t always get good grades

With the suffocating social isolation inflicted upon gifted students being ignored by most local schools, their emotional health is jeopardised and their social development is stalled. Without adequate support in the educational environment, their right to enjoy a social life like their peers is unfairly taken away.

Many misinformed parents even pressure their gifted children to excel in all academic aspects, which is unrealistic.

Gifted children, like all other children, are waiting to realise their full potential. But, without a favourable environment that takes into account their special needs, many of them will falter. It is time to start thinking about how young, talented minds can be nurtured better.

Scarlet Poon, Hung Hom