A parents and teachers concern group has made an open appeal to Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim, asking him to abolish the TSA tests for Primary Three students. The group says the tests are putting too much pressure on children and taking away their “healthy and happy childhoods.”

In an open letter published in Apple Daily on Thursday, the group urged Ng to free kids from the “unnecessary” Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) exams. The TSA Primary Three exams are used to test student performance in Chinese, English and maths, but results of the tests do not affect students’ secondary school applications.

However, many schools, concerned about rankings and branding, often put extra workload on students to pressure them to perform well in TSAs.

tsa abolition
Education minister Eddie Ng (left) and the open letter (right). Photo: HKFP.

“Any education policy which has completed its historical task and not been abolished will make stakeholders lose focus. The out-of-focus TSA for Primary Three has deprived children of their normal learning opportunities in class. Exam pressure and repeated exercises, on top of TSA-style classes and homework, have made children lose interest in learning,” the letter read.

Primary Six and Secondary Three students also have to take TSA tests. According to the website of the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, TSAs aim at helping schools and teachers to improve teaching based on information about students’ strengths and weaknesses.

tsa no homework

“The unbalanced education system severely affects children’s mental development. The TSA Primary Three tests made parents and children lose their family time. We called on the Education Bureau to immediately abolish the TSA Primary Three exams and push forward new policies based on preserving healthy and happy childhoods.”

A representative of the concern group said on RTHK on Thursday that the group is “disappointed” the government had not taken the initiative to start talks on the issue.

Meanwhile, 40,000 people have signed up on Facebook for an event hosted by the concern group in December to call for the abolition of controversial exams.

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.