What is Wrong with Education in Hong Kong?

As fresh graduates from the local university, we are always hunting for jobs under immense stress. Failures during first round interviews are very common. Even if finally being hired, anxieties are engraved in our minds. It seems as if suddenly, we have lost our sense of direction.

Why is this? It is because none of us have properly preplanned the professional future. When in primary school, we learnt that we compete with each other by simply comparing exam scores. During high school, we focused on the public exam and all of us had a common goal. After entering university, everyone started obsessing about how to obtain a better course grade. Eventually, we had never ideated life’s true purpose. We never learnt how to put theory into practice. Confusion and frustration therefore mark the transition of college students to employees. Especially the mental adaptation to a new environment turns out extremely difficult for us. This dilemma is majorly caused by the defective education system in Hong Kong.

  1. Measuring success in grades

Examination is one of the most efficient methods for testing ability but certainly not the only one. The value of a student should not be measured by the score alone. The students need to learn how to establish their own core life values aside of grades.

  1. Success is socially confined

In my opinion, the developments of the education system in Hong Kong are geared towards the wrong direction. John Rawls pointed out that success in large part hinges on contingency. Both a good doctor and good chef may have the same talent. However, doctors enjoy a higher social status and seem to be more successful because the society needs them. At the same time that does not mean that the chef is less successful. The difference of social status between chef and doctor cannot be eliminated completely.

The purpose of education ought to diminish this fundamental difference and increase the diversity of notions of success. However, this is not the case in Hong Kong. The definition of being successful is restrained by society. I believe that this the major trouble in the Hong Kong education system.

  1. Decision makers are not getting it right

Aside of the restrictive social notion of success, another main drawback of the Hong Kong education system is policy implantation. The birth rate in Hong Kong has been declining in recent years. This means that in theory, the class size could be reduced greatly and the ratio of students to teachers could be optimized. Quite the contrary; the education bureau in Hong Kong has reduced the number of teachers and has kept class sizes. Not only will this increase the workload of teachers but also affect the teaching quality.

Moreover, teachers enjoy high levels of job security as they sign a lifetime contract. At the same time, the number of these permanent positions is restricted. As a result of restricted permanent positions, high schools usually hire teaching assistants or teachers with one-year contracts in order to reduce the workload of the permanent teachers. However, a good teacher needs experience in teaching. How can a good teacher possibly hired if he/ she is offered a one-year contract only? Opportunities for good teachers are scarce and they might feel frustrated about their career choice and even quit eventually. With a lack of incentives for good teachers, teaching quality deteriorates and a vicious cycle emerges that poisons the future development of education.

To conclude, education is a very significant sector in social development. The Hong Kong government should adjust the direction and purpose of education. It should emphasize more on life planning instead of focusing on examination. Furthermore, the problems faced by the teachers in Hong Kong cannot be ignored. Social transformation can only occur if the direction and purpose of education is being changed.

On Tik Leung

Featured Image via NBC NEWS


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