Education Secretary Eddie Ng has come under criticism for allegedly making insensitive remarks to a parents group that raised concerns over the new Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) curriculum.
According to Ho Mei-yee, spokeswoman for a TSA parent concern group, Ng responded harshly when he was questioned at a meeting Tuesday about the excessive pressure that the TSA system was putting on pupils.
Asked whether parents or schools can decide to opt out of the new TSA proposed by the Education Bureau (EDB), Ng is said to have commented that “if parents dislike drilling by schools on their children, they can always switch schools”.
The audience was taken aback at the outburst, Ho said, echoing a view that the suggestion was preposterous.
A parent attendee at the meeting then asked Ng if he could give a list of the schools that did not engage in over-drilling their wards for the TSA tests.
The education chief was also asked if he was aware as to know how difficult it is to change schools in Hong Kong.
Ng didn’t bother to reply to those questions, Ho said, according to the Hong Kong Economic Journal.
Following the revelations, Ng’s comments have gone viral on social media, with many parents expressing anger at the education secretary’s lack of empathy for students and their parents.
Responding to the criticism, an EDB spokesman said there seems to be a misunderstanding of Ng’s comments and that his remarks may have been twisted out of context in online forums.
Ng had merely suggested that parents communicate with schools and choose the appropriate institution for their children, the spokesman said.
The TSA parent concern group agreed that not all schools are keen on over-drilling students for the tests. However, it found fault with the way the EDB reported on the meeting proceedings, accusing the bureau of giving a misleading picture.
On December 20, Ng published a Facebook post in which he said he was grateful for the Federation of Parent-Teacher Associations (FPTA) chairperson’s comments during the Tuesday meeting.
Ng posted two photos along with the message, with one picture showing the officials with the TSA parent concern group.
But the social media post didn’t mention the fact that there were opposing views from parents on re-introducing the TSA, Ming Pao Daily News reports.
The post also closed the “comment” function, a move seen as shutting the door on critical voices.
The EDB’s press secretary has rejected accusations that the bureau “hijacked” the outcome of the meeting.
He insisted that the event should not get twisted and blown up out of proportion.
- Contact us at [email protected]