Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Hong Kong’s falling student numbers a ‘golden window’ for smaller class sizes

Hong Kong’s falling student numbers a ‘golden window’ for smaller class sizes

The government says it wants to ‘foster a supportive environment for childbearing’, yet at the same time it is closing schools. Rather than a crisis, the fall in student numbers is an opportunity to have smaller classes and fix the learning gap left by the pandemic.

Remember those tall tales some of us heard growing up of our great-grandparents having to traverse unpaved mountainous roads, fording streams and battling the elements for long distances to get to school? They were barefoot, of course, while carrying their baby sibling on their back.

Sound overdramatic? Sure, but the moral of the story was not to take the gift of access to education for granted. And so my jaw couldn’t help but drop when I read the news of the merger of two secondary schools – one in Tung Chung and the other in the Southern district on Hong Kong Island – because of low enrolment.

Students will commute between Pok Fu Lam and Tung Chung – which are not neighbouring districts, to say the least – every day to complete their secondary education. Granted, they won’t have to make the trip walking barefoot as a bus service will be provided. Even so, it’s still preposterous.

Secretary for Education Christine Choi Yuk-lin has described the merger of the schools by Caritas Hong Kong, the schools’ sponsoring body, as a “prophetic vision”. That, too, is preposterous.

Such an arduous commute for students is pitiful for a global city in this day and age. Hong Kong’s drop in student numbers is a perfect opportunity to implement smaller class sizes, but instead the government has decided to close schools.

Caritas Wu Cheng-chung Secondary School in Pok Fu Lam. The school is set to merge with a secondary school in Tung Chung because of low enrolment.

Before we get to that, let’s address the perception problem the government is creating for itself. On one hand, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Chris Sun Yuk-han says, “The government has implemented various measures to foster a supportive environment for childbearing and to promote family-friendly measures to provide better support for couples who wish to bear children, but should avoid excessive intervention.” On the other, the government is taking away schools.

Sun is correct to point out that the declining birth rate is an issue that concerns multiple bureaus. However, the Education Bureau doesn’t appear to be optimistic about the government’s measures since it insists on closing schools based on its projected 15 per cent fall in the student population in the next six years.

Clearly the bureau isn’t counting on the birth rate to rise. If shutting down a school is a tough decision to make, imagine how much work it would take to build a new a school. Our education policymakers have placed their bets.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said he sees Hong Kong as being in a “golden window for development” and that university students from the mainland, Singapore and Malaysia are eager to forge careers in Hong Kong. We have no reason to doubt Chan, but it seems as though he’s not confident they will stay here and start families.

The government is adamant about moving forward with its Kau Yi Chau artificial islands project, which involves creating three artificial islands spanning 1,000 hectares at an estimated cost of HK$580 billion (US$74.1 billion). The project is expected to provide about 200,000 residential units. Why are we creating land to house future residents but not anticipating school-age residents?

Being strict about enrolment numbers and insisting on closing schools suggests to the public that the government isn’t optimistic about the birth rate. So why are we taking land from a golf course and spending public money on reclaiming land? There seems to be cognitive dissonance at work here.

But let’s get back to the government’s failure to see a drop in student numbers as an opportunity to adopt smaller classes. Choi said that “when dealing with the problem of a declining school-age population, we have always emphasised the interests of students are the top priority”. If so, the interests of students whose learning was disrupted by the pandemic should top her list of priorities.

The learning gap left by the pandemic is best filled by small-class teaching, which can help improve students’ academic achievement and social skills by facilitating an environment where teachers can provide more support and attention. This is all essential for students who have missed three years of in-person instruction.

The declining student population presents us with the opportunity to address learning loss, and this would no doubt be welcomed by couples considering whether to have children. If the government is willing to invest in improving students’ achievement, perhaps that will help ease our population crisis.


Related Articles

Hong Kong News
It's always the people with the dirty hands pointing their fingers
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Steve Jobs' Son Launches Venture Capital Firm With $200 Million For Cancer Treatments
Google reshuffles Assistant unit, lays off some staffers, to 'supercharge' products with A.I.
End of Viagra? FDA approved a gel against erectile dysfunction
UK sanctions Russians judges over dual British national Kara-Murza's trial
US restricts visa-free travel for Hungarian passport holders because of security concerns
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Political leader from South Africa, Julius Malema, led violent racist chants at a massive rally on Saturday
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
'I am not your servant': IndiGo crew member, passenger get into row over airline meal
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Spanish Citizenship Granted to Iranian chess player who removed hijab
US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell freezes up, leaves press conference
Speaker McCarthy says the United States House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach Joe Biden.
San Francisco car crash
This camera man is a genius
3D ad in front of Burj Khalifa
Next level gaming
BMW driver…
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.