Students in Hong Kong get better grades because they spent less time on school computers than students elsewhere in the world, research published  on Tuesday by the the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has shown.

Hong Kong students were ranks 3rd in mathematics among 59 countries and territories in the study “Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection” studying 15-year-old students worldwide.

The research, which focused on 15-year-old students, said those in Hong Kong spend just 11 minutes a day on school computers—significantly lower than the worldwide average of 25 minutes.

No noticeable improvement in testing scores have been recorded in places that invested heavily in information technology, the OECD report said.

Hong Kong Classroom
File Photo: A Classroom in Hong Kong. Photo:

“School systems need to find more effective ways to integrate technology into teaching and learning to provide educators with learning environments that support 21st century pedagogies and provide children with the 21st century skills they need to succeed in tomorrow’s world,” OECD Director for Education and Skills Andreas Schleicher said.

“Technology is the only way to dramatically expand access to knowledge. To deliver on the promises technology holds, countries need to invest more effectively and ensure that teachers are at the forefront of designing and implementing this change.”

Chair of the Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools Lee Suet-ying told Ming Pao that she doubted that Hong Kong students only spend 11 minutes per day on school computers, since schools generally have computer lessons. She also said she did not think there is a relationship between computer use and learning, except that students might forget how to write Chinese characters if they become too reliant on computers.

Lee suggested that there could be other reasons behind Hong Kong students’ superior grades in mathematics than European students. One of the reasons could be Hong Kong’s education culture, which focused on cultivating technical and reading skills, and that mathematics could be learned by constantly doing exercises, she added.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.