Secondary school top scorers draw up wish list for Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam
All six students with perfect DSE scores hail from elite schools and intend to study medicine at university
Six perfect scorers in Hong Kong’s secondary school public examinations this year drew up a wish list on Wednesday for the city’s new leader, asking her to heal a divided society and heed their concerns about national education.
All hailing from the city’s so-called “elite schools”, the high achievers also revealed they intended to pursue degrees in medicine or dentistry.
They were among the more than 60,300 candidates who received their Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exam results on Wednesday.
Two of the perfect scorers are from St Paul’s Co-educational College in Central, and the rest from Queen’s College in Causeway Bay, Belilios Public School in Tin Hau, Diocesan Girls’ School in Yau Ma Tei and Munsang College in Kowloon City.
They attained the highest score of 5** in seven subjects. Diocesan’s Maggie Lam Li-man, 18, also scored 5** for the extended mathematics module.
Except for Leung Kwun-hong, 17, from Munsang, who wanted to study dentistry, all the others hoped to become doctors.
While the top students welcomed Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s promised HK$5 billion boost for the education sector, they had a list of other expectations, asking her to put herself in Hongkongers’ shoes, make local people’s interests top priority and heal a divided society.
In response to Lam’s plan to step up national education to nurture a sense of “I am Chinese” identity among the city’s youth from as early as kindergarten, some of them suggested “brainwashing” should be avoided.
Li Long-hin, one of the star pupils from St Paul’s, said he believed it would benefit Hong Kong citizens to understand the city’s political climate and history.
“But making students submit to national education with a selective curriculum and the omission of certain parts of history is not where I want to see Hong Kong go,” the 18 year old said.
Richard Choy Wai-chak, 18, from Queen’s, said though national education was not uncommon in other countries, it would be “essential” to develop students’ critical thinking instead of spoon-feeding them.
Angela Sze Yik-yan, 17, from Belilios, said she would oppose national education if the learning materials tried to “cover up bad things” instead of being comprehensive and balanced.
Leung, from Munsang, also said he wished the government could find a better way to strengthen children’s patriotism so it would not be labelled as “brainwashing”.
National education is a sensitive issue among many parents wary of mainland propaganda. In 2012, the former administration was forced to drop plans for compulsory national education classes after a mass protest that lasted several days outside government headquarters, with parents and students complaining of “brainwashing”.
Tang Wai-chi, 18, from St Paul’s, and Lam from Diocesan refused to be drawn on the issue.
As for their personal aspirations, Leung said he originally wanted to follow in the footsteps of his elder sister, who also received perfect scores in most of her subjects in graduation exams and went on to become a doctor.
But he said he would now go for dentistry instead after seeing his sister suffering great pressure and staying up late on many nights because of the study demands of medicine.
He recalled going through intense pressure himself when preparing for the exams, which had led to insomnia.
Sze of Belilios said she had spent about 15 hours a day studying since February, and sticking memos with inspiring messages on her desk, such as: “God rewards the diligent.”
Reporting by Shirley Zhao, Xinqi Su, Ben Pang, Nicola Chan, Hana Davis, Brian Wong and Tracy Zhang