The Legislative Council Panel on Education held a nine-hour long hearing on Sunday to collect public views on the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA). It was attended by around 130 parents, students, teachers, and representatives from various organisations.

The hearing came following the voting down of a motion to abolish the TSA in the Legislative Council last Thursday. Among those speaking at the hearing were two primary three students, who said that they had to do a huge amount of homework every day and that they felt very stressed. They also said that according to the government advertisements they had seen in the MTR, children should have time to exercise every day, but they do not have time at all.

primary school hearing
A primary school student speaking at the hearing. screencap.

Scholarism convenor Joshua Wong said on Facebook, “This little kid broke my record of speaking at the Legco at the age of 14… now even primary school kids have to [do so]. Does the Education Bureau want primary school kids to start student movements too?”

‘Happy’ and ‘relaxed’
Kitty Chan, a primary four student at Yaumati Catholic Primary School (Hoi Wang Road), said that she was “happy” and “relaxed” taking the TSA, because the tests would not be handed back to her for corrections, which meant that she had more time to play. She also said that the TSA was “no pressure at all” and that there was no need to abolish them. “Should we ask the government to block the road just because there has been a small accident?” she said.

danny chan
Danny Chan and his daughter. Photo: Stand News.

The girl was then identified by “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung as the daughter of The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) deputy spokesman for Financial Affairs, Danny Chan Chung-cheung. Chan said that he had not intended to hide the fact that he belonged to DAB, and that he was sitting next to his daughter, so there would have been no way he would not be recognised, Stand News reported.

Kitty Chan later admitted to Ming Pao that the script was mostly written by her father. “He wrote it, and then I changed a little.” Chan said that the contents were entirely approved of by his daughter and that the speech had not been reviewed by DAB.

‘Significant adjustments’ to the system
Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, the Acting Secretary for Education, said that if there was no way of changing the situation of drilling for the assessments, the Education Bureau would be willing to make “significant adjustments”, although Yeung did not elaborate on what that meant. Legislative Councillor Ip Kin-yuen welcomed the stance, and said that he hoped Secretary for Education Eddie Ng would not backtrack when he meets the pan-democrat lawmakers this Thursday.

kevin yeung
Kevin Yeung. Photo: GovHK.

Chairman of the Legislative Council’s education panel, Lam Tai-fai, also told RTHK that he was happy to hear Yeung say that, and warned that the controversy could escalate to become a political crisis and “a repeat of the national education saga”, if it was not handled properly.

Ho Mei-yee, a spokesperson for a TSA concern group, said that the TSA was flawed in both its ideology and its function and that it was unacceptable to just discuss how to stop the drilling. Another spokesperson, Yam Yee-ning, also said that Yeung was an “outsider” and questioned his ability to judge the experts’ and parents’ comments.

The TSA exams, taken by Primary Three, Primary Six and Secondary Three students in Hong Kong local schools, are aimed at measuring students’ “strengths and weaknesses” in learning, authorities said. Although results of the tests do not affect students’ applications for secondary schools or universities, many feel the pressure to perform well. Grades-oriented school authorities also give extra work to students to help them score better in TSA exams.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.