Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim has come under fire for refusing to scrap the controversial Territory-wide System Assessment for Primary 3 students this year, Apple Daily reported Thursday.
Ng brought further derision on himself for opting to miss a public hearing on the TSA in a Legislative Council panel later this month.
He repeated his defense of the TSA in Legco on Wednesday, emphasizing to lawmakers that the individual test results of students would not be examined, nor would the assessment affect their academic advancement, allocation to a secondary school place after Primary 6, or be used as a benchmark for shutting down schools.
Ng said that in the coming three months, a review committee will look into whether the TSA questions are overly complicated for Primary 3 students and whether the assessment could be held every other year and for students chosen at random.
Lam Tai-fai, a legislator for the industrial sector, criticized Ng for his flawed handling of the lead-tainted water scare at schools and the recent debate on the TSA, questioning his ability to lead Hong Kong’s Education Bureau.
“With Ng’s poor credibility, both parents and schools will not trust his words,” Lam said.
He urged Ng to attend the public hearing on TSA scheduled on Nov. 29 by Legco’s panel on education.
However, Ng rejected his invitation, saying he would unfortunately be out of town for personal reasons on the day of the meeting, although he wished he could be present.
Unimpressed with Ng’s reply, Lam said it is the misfortune of the people of Hong Kong to have Ng as the head of the Education Bureau.
Fellow lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, chairman of the League of Social Democrats, echoed Lam’s views.
Leung said: “How could Ng do his job in such a way while being paid over HK$200,000 [US$25,800] a month.”
Civic Party lawmaker Kenneth Chan Ka-lok challenged Ng to take a sample TSA test to see for himself the difficulties faced by the students who are forced to take it.
Chan mocked Ng as behaving like an ostrich by hanging his head while not answering Chan’s question.
Executive Council member Cheung Chi-kong, a pro-Beijing commentator, said in a newspaper article on Wednesday that the pan-democratic camp has blown the TSA issue out of proportion.
“Given that district council elections are upcoming, the pan-democrats are trying to attack pro-establishment candidates like in their successful campaign against national education back in 2012,” Cheung wrote.
Cheung said the source of pressure on students is actually “monster parents” who, on one hand, wanted to drill their children to get good grades to advance to better schools while, on the other, feeling the pain of the overdrilling to which they subject the kids.
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