Existing Issues with Hong Kong Education
High-pressure Education System
According to HK Children Happiness Index, there is an annual drop of more than 5 percent among students in Hong Kong Primary School. It is apparent that their anxiousness has been attributed to their parents, studies and extracurricular activities.
High-pressure Education System
Hong Kong parents tend to put a great deal of pressure on their children, urging them to get the top grades in their class at school and comparing them to other kids. Regardless of their children’s interests and desires, parents enroll them in extracurricular activities. We cannot only blame the parents for the dramatic drop in children's happiness level. The result-oriented education system must share some of the responsibility.
Recent studies also revealed that two-thirds of teachers and students in Hong Kong show signs of depression. Both parties have complained about suffering heavy stress from the school workload, with close to a third of teachers putting in more than 60 hours a week, and students spending an average of 11 hours a day in class and studying.
Many students are hindered in their academic and personal development as a result of constraints such as poverty, dysfunctional family setting, physical disabilities, learning difficulties and developmental disabilities such as Specific Learning Disorders and Autism. We believe that each youth, regardless of their background or physical conditions, should be given equal opportunities in education.
According to the recent report published by the Government, poverty rate has hit a nine-year high of 20.1% with nearly 1.38 million people living in poverty. Particularly worrying is that the number of children in poverty has risen rather than dropped even after policy intervention. Children from low-income families commonly lack social as well as educational resources.
When we talk about education as a human right, people often say its not an issue in Hong Kong, however not everyone is provided with an equitable education without discrimination. It is a fact that Hong Kong’s education system and curriculum favour those who speak Cantonese as a mother tongue. Even when ethnic minority children are eager to learn the local language, it is difficult for them to achieve similar results as their Chinese peers. In Hong Kong, ethnic minorities include new immigrants from Mainland China, South and Southeast Asians. They face many problems in their daily life because of their race and cultural differences. Thus, racial discrimination exists in Hong Kong and becomes more and more serious.
In the 2018 Policy Address, the all-graduate teaching force policy is announced. Under the policy, graduate teachers are benefited with better salary and welfare. At the same time, they may face more administrative duties, which are not taught in detail in their teacher education.
Teacher education is the cornerstone of the quality and future development of the education system in Hong Kong. While the professional training provides pre-service teachers with extensive pedagogies, subject knowledge and theories alike, it is a common practice for the education faculties of various universities to offer teaching practicum lasting between three to four months to pre-service teachers throughout their five years of study.
Since teacher education in Hong Kong revolves mostly around theories with relatively less emphasis on practice, fresh graduate teachers are often challenged by practical issues, such as administrative tasks and communication with parents. In addition, in light of the local teacher education which places more significance on theories than on practice, pre-service teachers often find it difficult to have hands-on experience with various education issues, such as students with speciation education needs (SEN) and non-Chinese students (NCS), both of which are common in local schools.
As a result, pre-service teachers often find themselves in a difficult situation, where they struggle to develop the skills necessary for these tasks in their first year of teaching.