Is spending long hours in school good for students?

June 03, 2019 14:20
Students must be given enough time to pursue their interests and learn from first-hand experiences. Photo: GovHK

Hongkongers born in the 1970s and 1980s attended primary school classes only for half a day. They had classes in the morning, went home for lunch and even had time to watch cartoons on television after finishing their homework.

Now, most primary schools in Hong Kong have whole-day classes.

Parents hope the city will return to the half-day system. The topic has been discussed for many years but without any progress.

The Education Bureau switched to a full-day program on the belief that it would offer more interaction between students and teachers.

Students can finish their homework with help from their teachers and they have enough time for extracurricular activities.

But it turned out that the new system only meant longer hours with students rushing back to their classrooms after a quick lunch break.

In fact, spending long hours in school does not necessarily deliver good education. Finland ranks among the highest in the world in the quality of education: its shorter classroom hours don't compromise the quality of education at all.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced in February that the government would set aside HK$900 million per year to offer subsidies for public and private schools under the Direct Subsidy Scheme, and encourage schools to organize more experiential activities for students.

About 1,000 schools would be able to join the project, which requires them to use some of the afternoon classroom hours for students to pursue their interests and learn from first-hand experiences.

Our DreamStarter program, which has already attracted 23 schools, aims precisely to achieve that.

Sustainable development is a key message in the course design. Protecting the earth is easier said than done. We are fortunate to get support from Ocean Park, whose cooperation has enabled our students to experience marine conservation.

We also work with other organizations. We hope through this program, students can chase their dreams, unleash their potential and build up a positive attitude.

The full article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 31

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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