Date
22 September 2017
Pui Ching Primary School says the controversy over student 'remorse letters' is a misunderstanding but parents are not impressed. Photo: Internet
Pui Ching Primary School says the controversy over student 'remorse letters' is a misunderstanding but parents are not impressed. Photo: Internet

HK primary school under fire over ‘remorse letters’

A Hong Kong primary school is under fire from a group of parents who are complaining that their children are harassed if they don’t get good grades.

The harassment includes asking pupils to write a “letter of remorse” if they don’t get full marks in Chinese composition examinations, the Hong Kong Economic Times reported Friday.

A group of parents of primary two students lodged the complaint with Pui Ching elementary school.

They said they would get calls from teachers whenever their children got anything lower than 90 in their exams and would be told to help them catch up, the report said.

Apart from being told to get high marks, students are also being deprived of play time. Teachers would ask them to stay behind during recess.

A school representative said it was all a misunderstanding.

He said the “remorse letter” was meant for those who did not obtain full marks in the entire Chinese subject, not just Chinese composition.

The school said the exercise was intended to encourage students to reflect on their mistakes. Those who scored high marks could also think about their success.

In Facebook posts, parents said their children were asked to write 100 characters in the letter each day. If they failed to submit it on time, the word count requirement would rise by another 100 characters.

Tse Ka-ho, an associate professor in the Hong Kong Institute of Education, said such letters are harsh on students, calling the requirement “nearly crazy”.

Legislator Ip Kin-yuen, who is also vice chairman of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, said it is too much to ask students to obtain full marks.

He said the letter of remorse is a form of punishment which could have an adverse psychological effect on the students.

Meanwhile, education psychologist Stanley Chan of Heep Hong Society said learning motives are built on “values of success” and “opportunities to succeed”.

Negative comments and unrealistic goals create anxiety and insomnia among young children and will hurt their self-respect in the long run.

Chan said schools and parents should encourage students during the learning process and complimernt them for simply paying attention in class, instead of being too focused on the results.

And goals should be set with reference to the child’s abilities, he said.

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