Testy debate over student drilling persists – The Standard – Phoenix Un

Even without the controversial Territory- wide System Assessment or its revamped version, drilling of students will persist since it is rooted in Chinese culture, say two headmasters of schools that participated in a trial study last year.

Primary Three students from 490 schools will sit for the Basic Competency Assessment’s listening Chinese test today, as well as the oral Chinese and English exams tomorrow.

Schools only need to randomly select those who will take part – meaning not all students will take the tests.

Students were also given the chance to decline taking the tests, and schools then picked others as replacements.

But mandatory tests will take place on June 13 and 14 on written exams for Chinese, English and mathematics.

Eva Hsu Au Yee-wah, head of the Fukien Secondary School Affiliated School, said on a radio program yesterday: “All headmasters believe that drilling will take place even without the former TSA because it’s traditional Chinese culture that people treat assessments as examinations.”

She admitted that the Education Bureau used to censure schools for their bad TSA results, but it had promised not to do so this time around.

“I told the education officer that the BCA results of my school improved, then he said, ‘oh really?’ I was very surprised that he didn’t know,” she said. “This shows that they no longer chase schools with the data.”

The trial last year involved 50 schools.

She claimed that adults were the ones who scared off children about the TSA.

Hung Wai-shing, who heads Shing Kung Hui Tin Shui Wai Ling Oi Primary School, said on the same radio show that private schools should have the right to choose whether to join the BCA.

“We should think why half of the private schools still chose to join the BCA,” Hung said, noting that 20 out of 43 private primary schools are joining the new assessment.

He said he was disappointed that only two members of the Legislative Council education panel – Ann Chiang Lai-wan and Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee – participated in the TSA sharing seminar that he and several other headmasters held on Tuesday.

But Parents Alliance spokeswoman Annie Cheung Yim-shuen said it is “unimaginable” to assert that drilling is innate in Chinese culture.

“I experienced no drilling when I was a student. My 19-year-old eldest son also experienced none, but my youngest son, who is nine, had a different experience,” she said.

The Education Bureau and headmasters are deceiving the public by saying drilling could be prevented [after the bureau promised that it would] not run after schools for better results, she said.

“But schools don’t want to fall below [Hong Kong’s standards]. Thus, there will be drilling.”