A Year 11 international school student initiated an online petition calling on the Education Bureau (EDB) to resume classes for Year 11 & 13 students taking public exams this year.
This came following the EDB Secretary for Education Yeung Yun-hung's announcement of the extension of school suspensions until at least April 20 on Tuesday, in light of the city’s ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
In the appeal, South Island School student Zachary Perez Jones, 15, highlighted several e-learning issues facing candidates taking the IGCSE, A Level and IB exams, which are due to start in early May this year. They include learning fatigue and low study efficiency when both learning and revision take place at home, mental stress due to uncertainty of whether exams would be rescheduled, as well as less effective knowledge absorption than being in class.
“If the exam year classes were to return to campus, this would enable schools to spread students out to minimise [student-to-student] contact,” his statement read. “Other measures such as temperature checks can easily be put in place, and alongside enforced hand washing, would further lower the risks of infection.”
Zachary, who is a Young Post Junior Reporter, also claimed studies have suggested children (people under 18) are not as vulnerable as adults to the coronavirus - whose mortality rate for teenagers is under 0.2 per cent - and that Singapore, despite being affected by the epidemic, has been quite successful in keeping schools open by implementing strong health checks.
“It has been extremely hard for students to work at home, and e-lessons are simply unsustainable,” the student activist told Young Post. “I believe that there has been a massive overreaction to Covid-19, and we need to think about the long-term damage that the government and EDB’s decisions will have on Hong Kong students’ education, as well as our society as a whole.”
Zachary confirmed to Young Post that the petition had already been sent to Yeung and the Chief Executive’s Office earlier at 1.30pm today. As of 6.30pm, 667 students have signed the petition.
One of the participants, Xavier C, confessed that he actually supports the government’s decision to suspend classes for the safety of students, teaching staff and the public. “However, I did sign this petition, with [the] hope that the Education Bureau does acknowledge that many international students, myself included, are [now] being deprived of the proper resources for a successful graduation,” he wrote.