By Raphael Blet
Last week, the Education Bureau (EDB) announced that the controversial Primary Three Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) might be resumed following public consultations.
Parent and teacher groups threatened to “boycott” the TSA, citing an unnecessary pressure given to the students.
Figures showed that out of 112 people surveyed, 86 per cent expressed their concern.
Meanwhile, EDB officials called on members of the public to better understand the TSA, they also said that they received “positive feedback”.
The TSA was temporarily suspended for consultation following a strong opposition from both parents and teachers.
However, public consultations have long been regarded as paper tiger.
So what’s really wrong with Hong Kong’s education system?
Administration, administrators and bureaucracy: a lifelong problem
As we all know, teachers, students and parents are rarely those in charge of deciding for the future of education, the job being given to “officials”.
Presuming that the people in charge of overseeing the education system are “professionals” in the matter, it would be acceptable for us to give them the commands.
After all, when we board an aircraft, we likely trust our pilots.
Well, the reason why we trust our pilots is due to the fact that they know what aviation is all about, thanks to their extensive training.
But, in spite of their passion and extensive knowledge, pilots do not guarantee our journey to be safe.
Why? Well… air traffic controllers also play a huge part in the process.
Only by having air traffic controllers who are professionals of aviation can we guarantee a safe journey. Otherwise, accidents would occur more often.
This analogy is applicable to the education sector.
While teachers are professionals in their field of research, it isn’t sufficient to provide a quality education to students as it is necessary for those in charge of administering it to be professionals of the sector.
Unfortunately, whether it is in Hong Kong or elsewhere, education ministers are rarely issued from the field.
Those who are have usually no teaching experience.
This is indeed the problem currently faced by Hong Kong.
In addition, the territory’s small size makes the problem even more visible.
What we need is administrators who are knowledgeable in the field.
Only then will the problem improve.
When will these administrators understand that they are doing more harm than good to education?
When will they understand that all their policies, reviews and implementations only had counter-effects on students?
It might seem illogical, but the separation of powers should be extended to education. In other words, education should be independent from the administration, so as the judiciary.
Education: a business?
Sadly but truly, education (especially in Hong Kong) has turned into a profit making institution or in other words: a merchandise.
Simply look at the number of education “fairs” held in Hong Kong every year and you will understand.
Education should be treasured, not merchandised.
As we would commonly say for a masterpiece: it is “inestimable”, the only difference being that education should be accessible to all.
In addition to this, many trends have seen the light of day, one of them being pre-school interview preparations for two year olds!
Yes, we are not even talking about interviews, we talk about interview preparation for pre-school entrances.
Is it really the new selling point we want for our education?
The population’s role: we are all responsible
Criticizing the “system is an easy task given the subjectivity of the term. What about self-reflection?
While a significant number of parents and students stand for education (therefore against the current system), another portion seems to accept it as it is while at the same time, briefly complaining about the “system”.
First off, we should remember that there is no offer without demand and the current system only prevails due to the morally inactive state of some people.
It might be harsh for us to reflect on the reality, but we need to assume that some parents care more about prestige than they do about their child’s development and happiness.
Look at tiger mothers: this isn’t due to the so called “system”, it’s all about one’s mentality and greed.
A research conducted by Almudena Sevilla, professor of economics at Queen Mary University of London, revealed that some tiger mums suffered from psychological disorders linked to unhappiness.
On the other hand, some of the students (of all ages) who are currently complaining about the so called “system” of today might be the tiger parents of tomorrow.
Unfortunately, as human beings, we have an instinct of wanting our children to go through the same nonsense that we went through. Some might say: “I’ve gone through this, there is no reason why you can’t”.
That’s the main problem.
We need to be willing to change our own mentality before changing the system. Only by doing so will the system change.
For the time being, those fighting to improve the education of the next generation should continue to raise awareness on the issue and push for changes.
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Cover Photo Credit: Pat B/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)