Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Desperately seeking a Form 6 place in the typhoon

The tropical storm Kammuri is passing by Hong Kong at the moment and the Typhoon signal is hoisted. Schools are closed, businesses are shuttered, buses and ferries are stopped, and most people stay at home. The winds are very strong and the rains are heavy. There are real dangers out on the streets.

Yet there are hundreds of students and parents still lining up outside a number of schools despite the wind and the rain, some of them having been there since yesterday.

The results of the Hong Kong Certificate of Education of Examinations (HKCEE), taken by all Form 5 students, were announced on Monday. 90% of the about 25,000 Form 6 places have already been filled by yesterday (Tuesday), leaving only about 2,330 still open for the remaining almost 30,000 students who meet the minimum requirements. Because of the typhoon, the application process have been postponed for one day; so there is really no need to say in line in the storm. However, these students and parents do not wish to take any chances and decide to stay in line. It is a vivid reminder of how seriously we HongKong’ers take our education. And how brutal the competition is.

I cannot help but wonder: Why can’t someone make better arrangements for these desperate students and parents? Why can’t someone give them numbers so that they can come back tomorrow and still keep their places? If it may be deemed unfair to those who follow instructions and stay at home today, why can’t the schools at least let them inside the schools so that they can stay out of the rain and wind?


The Cat said...

I dunno if I agree. The Education Department already postponed the application process for the day. If the students and parents choose to disregard those guidelines, it's their choice. I don't think that the schools should bear the responsibility of having to make arrangements for these kinds of choices that people make. Not to mention -- what about those teachers who'd have to come into work on a T8 signal day?

StephenC said...

All the school needs to do is to have someone give each of the students a number to mark their place. Or simply to let them into the school to stay out of the rain. There are always some staff at the school. They can be given instructions by phone.

But you do have a point. At least some of them knew the rules, and were trying to impress the school with their sincerity.

Ultimately, it was a farcical situation driven by the lack of sufficient school places.

The Cat said...

I believe that once the students and parents are on the school campus, the the school has a liability issue if somebody gets injured or if property goes missing. So I can totally understand why it would not be wise for the schools to let the students onto campus.

As you said, the problem is ultimately with the lack of school places. Or with the level that the minimum score is set at. If there were more school places, or if the bar were simply set higher and there weren't that many students who were "eligible" for F6, this wouldn't be a problem.

StephenC said...

I still maintain there is a better way to handle the situation rather than to let hundreds of parents and students stay outside in a typhoon signal no. 8.

Hong Kong is supposed to have free markets. But it is certainly not true in education.

Why are the number of school places and their distribution so tightly controlled? Quality issues can be resolved much better through certification. Who ultimately benefits from control?