24 October 2016
Parents should strike the right balance when it comes to pushing their kids on academic performance. Photo: CNSA
Parents should strike the right balance when it comes to pushing their kids on academic performance. Photo: CNSA

What’s wrong with Hong Kong’s education system?

Given that we had a series of student suicide cases in Hong Kong recently, I’d like to share my thoughts on education as a father of two kids.

I often oversee my twin boys’ homework even though I have so much work and other things to deal with.

I have chosen a relatively less stressful primary school for them, as I am aware of the issues in Hong Kong’s education system.

The school which I chose for my kids seeks whole-person development and has smaller class sizes.

In fact, my two sons actually had the chance to get into the so-called elite schools. But I decided against that when I heard a story about the son of my former boss.

The boy had severe stage fright when participating in an English Speech competition. He just forgot everything on the stage and started to cry.

That certainly disappointed the parents, who expected that he would at least win some awards. One additional award would make his resume look more perfect when applying for primary school.

The mother was eager to find out why her son was so terrified that he forgot everything. But my former boss was more patient and asked his wife not to over-react.

Thereafter, the son prefers to share his thoughts with the father, and has acted rebelliously against his mother.

I always contemplate one question: Is getting good grades the only priority when it comes to my kids?

My father did not intervene too much in my studies when I was young. He always told me that everybody has his or her own way.

As long as I do not commit crime, I can live a good life if I work hard as an average person, he assured me.

I believe everyone should ask themselves what they want in life. Some live for success and fame. I agree that knowledge can help boost one’s skills and offer more opportunities.

That said, one should have a clear idea as to the purpose of learning and what they are actually learning.

For example, Hong Kong promotes biliteracy and trilingualism policy. Different languages would facilitate our understanding of different cultures, and help us communicate with different people, and express ideas and thoughts best, and learn from others.

Mathematics helps train our problem-solving capability and logic thinking. Common sense means we need to pay attention to things happening every day, and enhance our observation and decide what’s right and wrong.

My twin sons have totally different interests. The big brother is excellent in English and mathematics, while the younger one is more interested in Chinese and arts. Therefore, the big brother has an advantage in traditional scoring system, and he always ranked in the top three in his class. His younger brother, meanwhile, is only able to make into the top 10.

The children arrive home at nearly 7 in the evening after going to cram school. And they go to bed at around 10. They barely have any time for TV or playing games, with so many activities during weekends.

Every parent hopes their children will have a bright future. But what has caused the excessive stress for our students?

I think the government has to take the blame.

Hong Kong has offered no clear options for young people who haven’t followed the traditional path of getting good grades and going to college.

Society still values the traditional path of higher education far more than technical education.

This is an issue that we need to address.

WY Jimmy wrote this article, which appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 18.

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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