Television Broadcasts Ltd. (TVB), Hong Kong’s top terrestrial television broadcaster, is facing criticism over a parenting show that it aired on its main Cantonese language channel on Monday.
Critics have taken umbrage at what they say is the program’s perpetuation of myths in relation to how parents can help their kids get a head start in school education.
The TV station is facing questions in particular for airing footage of a woman who said couples must keep school admissions in mind when they plan baby conception and delivery.
Drawing gasps from the audience, the woman said the head start should come “from the moment of ejaculation”.
During the show, the mother — who was identified by the program host as “Irene from Tuen Mun” — championed the notion that couples should time the moment of conception well so as to ensure that the children are born in the month of January.
Being born in January will help kids become members of an elite band of “eldest boys and girls within the same birth year” and enable them to score over others in school admissions, she said.
As “competition for school places is very intense in Hong Kong”, parents must do all they can to help the kids, including the timing of the births, Irene said.
She was echoing the belief among some people that children born in January will enjoy many advantages over their peers who are born in latter months of the same year, when it comes to admission to popular kindergartens, primary schools, secondary schools and eventually universities.
Education experts, however, dismiss such suggestions, saying the theory has no basis.
Peter Chiu Wing-tak, honorary advisor of Hong Kong Association of Careers Masters and Guidance Masters, told Apple Daily that it is not true that children born early in the year have an edge over others in school admissions.
He criticized the TVB program, saying it feeds some fears and myths in society.
Chiu noted that there are over 700 kindergartens that passed the education quality assessments by the Education Bureau.
It means that there is abundant supply and that parents need not scramble for school places for the kids.
Rosa Chow Wai-chun, chairperson of Hong Kong Early Childhood Educators Association chairperson, also said that the TVB program has propagated falsehoods.
Responding to the criticism, the producer of the TVB program, a person named Cheung Chi-ming, said the show was aimed at promoting awareness and stimulating a debate on parenting issues, including the topic of “monster parents”.
The Communications Authority is said to have received three formal complaints about the TV program so far.
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