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Well folks, I found a problem!
Yes, I know… there are quite a few…
But, here is the biggest!
“Duh!” you say.
Well, let me break it down for you and let’s discuss.
There are 52 weeks in a calendar year. However, the Hong Kong public schools run from the 1st of September until 11th of July, leaving 45 weeks.
Hong Kong is the land of public holidays and there are three big ones, Christmas, Chinese New Year and Easter. All three lasting around 2 weeks each. Which takes that 45 down to 39 weeks. You also have 8 individual public holidays like Buddha’s birthday and Mid Autumn Festival, so let’s call it 38.
Ok, so 38 out of 56 weeks in a year… That’s not too bad.
Well, here’s where it gets ugly.
There are 4 major exams during the school year in Hong Kong. Which means there are 4 weeks where the students come to school for only half days and all they do during that time is write exams.
It’s not just that!
In addition to those 4 weeks, you also have 4 weeks of cramming beforehand, reviewing and making sure they do everything they can to succeed in the exam, as well as doing oral exams in English and Mandarin. And finally you have the 4 weeks afterwards marking and reviewing the exams.
It’s basically 3 weeks of lost time for each exam, totaling 12 for the year. Which takes the grand total to 26 weeks of learning.
I’m not even including the T.S.A. exams for P3 and P6 students and the fact the the weeks near the summer are spent watching videos and playing.
So for only 26 weeks of the year, students in the public Hong Kong system can potentially learn new things. This is simply unacceptable. Not to mention the amount of hair-raising stress that these exams cause both students and teachers.
Despite these numbers staring Hong Kong straight in the face, why no change? I’ve been teaching in the public system here for 8 years, and I have seen such little adaptation.
In the past 8 years, we have sat still and I continually hear,
“Let’s do this for now, and next year think about doing that.”
I’d love to hear what you think. What do you think is wrong with the education system in Hong Kong?
Hope you’re all having a great week!