Coronavirus: Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups says that three times more DSE candidates have called for emotional support since the start of Covid-19 pandemic


Many students are concerned about personal health, study pressure and class suspensions during the public exams

Joanne Ma |

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Hsu Siu-man (middle) says that more students have been calling the hotline because of the coronavirus outbreak.

A local youth group recorded a threefold increase of phone calls from HKDSE candidates and their parents who were seeking guidance amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG) released a report that showed the number of candidates who sought help and emotional support from the organisation’s HKDSE hotline, “DSE 27771112”, was three times higher than last year.

From January 29 to March 10, the hotline received a total of 1,514 phone calls seeking assistance. Sixty per cent of the calls were related to personal health and the ongoing pandemic. One quarter of the calls were about the support that schools could provide.

HKDSE: the exam timetable at your fingertips 

Some 10 per cent of the calls were about higher education, study pressure, and candidates’ emotions in the run-up to the public exams.

The report said one student called because she was worried that other candidates might fall ill during the exam. She was also anxious that her masks were too thin, there wasn’t enough space between desks, and that exam venues wouldn’t be sufficiently disinfected. At the same time, her parents were very concerned about her health, and that caused stress as well.

Other cases included students complaining that they were unable to focus and revise efficiently when they were at home rather than at school. Without their classmates and friends around them, some of them felt lonely, thinking that they were fighting the HKDSE battle all on their own. 

Things we took for granted before the coronavirus

A parent of a candidate called the hotline saying that her son was a cross-border student. Due to fear of infection, he had decided not to take this year’s HKDSE. The student wished to use his academic results in school to apply for higher education, so they were looking into programmes at the Vocational Training Council.

Hsu Siu-man, HKFYG coordinator, said that because of the coronavirus outbreak, class suspension and social instability, some students were struggling to control their feelings or adjust their study schedules. She said they were worried that there wouldn’t be enough time and resources for their revision.

“With the health risks and worries about getting infected at the exam venues, candidates felt disheartened and lonely. While some were already prepared for lower grades, others said they wouldn’t even make an effort,” said Hsu.

She suggested candidates take the initiative to seek help from teachers and graduates, and make use of all the online platforms offering assistance.