School’s out for summer, although not quite for everyone. Eighty percent of Hong Kong’s primary school students have applied to do more extra-curricular activities during the summer holidays, according to a survey.

The poll – conducted by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups – also found that 45 per cent of students had to finish at least five summer workbooks, and 40 per cent indicated they would need to spend over three hours per day to finish all of their tasks.

hong kong primary student photo
Hong Kong primary school students. Photo: Photo: U.S. Pacific Fleet via Flickr.

The HKFYG interviewed 1,500 primary three to six students to understand the enrolment situation of primary school summer programmes.

Local parent Ms. Lo has arranged five activities for her two sons this summer. She told Apple Daily that she had sought her sons’ views before applying, hoping that they would enjoy the activities.

Photo: RTHK.
Ms. Hsu Siu-man, supervisor of HKFYG. Photo: RTHK.

Hsu Siu-man, HKFYG supervisor of student counselling, said that parents should not organise too many activities for their children. “If parents simply want to fill up their children’s diaries, it is questionable whether they find enjoyment in their learning process,” Hsu said at a press conference.

“While the study indicated that students may be enrolled in an array of summer activities such as music and sports, we are concerned that they may be too exhausted.”

The situation does not improve when school resumes. Nearly 12 per cent of students said their stress levels reach full marks of ten during the school term, according to another survey carried out by HKFYG in 2013. Among those studying in secondary and primary school, 30 per cent said that they would enroll in over 11 activities once school begins.

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In 2013, a UN Committee on children’s rights expressed concerns about the competitive nature of Hong Kong’s education system and the effect it was having on the mental welbeing of children in Hong Kong. The report called on the Hong Kong government to do more to make sure a child’s “right to play” was protected.

Photo: U.S. Pacific Fleet

Paul Benedict Lee is an undergraduate law student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Paul has previously contributed to HK Magazine and Radio Television Hong Kong, covering issues ranging from local heritage conservation to arts features. He has also worked as a legal intern at local human rights firm Daly & Associates.