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Hong Kong schools

Hong Kong primary school taking stress out of homework for pupils by freeing up afternoons in class

  • Po Leung Kuk Tin Ka Ping Primary School in Tai Po sets aside three afternoons a week for pupils to tackle their assignments
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2018, 10:15am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 October, 2018, 10:15am

More than 70 per cent of pupils are taking the initiative to read at home because they spend less of their own time on assignments, a school using a novel approach has found.

Po Leung Kuk Tin Ka Ping Primary School in Tai Po is one of the few schools where pupils get more time to do homework in class. Some even complete their work before heading home.

The school, which has 700 pupils, implemented the scheme in 2016 to provide children with more time for other social or extracurricular activities. For two years, it has freed up afternoon classes for pupils to do homework in school with their teachers present to help if needed.

The tutorial classes run for an hour, from 1.50pm, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

According to a survey by the school, as many as 73 per cent of the pupils are now able to spend more than an hour after school reading, a significant increase from the previous 25 per cent.

Principal Jojo Chan Wing-yin said 94 per cent of parents were satisfied with the arrangement.

Students also welcomed the changes.

Are pushy parents to blame for Hong Kong’s unhappy nine-year-olds?

Primary Six pupil Reeve Chan Kwun-huen said the tutorial classes allowed him to finish between half and 70 per cent of his daily assignments and he could manage the rest within 30 minutes at home, compared with two hours previously.

With the extra time, the 11-year-old can walk his dog or read his favourite books.

“Sometimes my parents were not able to teach me and I would have to wait until the next day to ask my teachers or classmates. But now if there’s something I don’t understand, I can ask my teacher during the tutorials,” he said.

However, the school noticed that some parents used the spare time to sign up their children for extra classes.

“This was not the purpose of our arrangement. We want the children to be free of stress when they leave school and not to be burdened with more responsibilities and class work,” Jojo Chan said.

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen agreed that more schools should adopt the approach, while offering an explanation as to why some parents still sent their children to learning centres.

“It may be that there’s no one to look after the children while the parents are at work. In a way, they treat these centres as day care, forgetting the children have nearly finished their homework and need playtime,” he said.

We shouldn’t deny children their right to do things they love
Ip Kin-yuen, education sector lawmaker

Ip suggested that schools or community centres should open their facilities to the public so these children were not forced to go to learning centres.

He and the principal both stressed the importance of ensuring youngsters had a happy childhood.

“We shouldn’t deny them their right to do things they love,” Ip said.

“Maybe it’s surfing the internet, taking up a sport, taking a stroll in the park. Even doing chores around the house can help kids’ physical and mental development.”