Chief executive contender John Tsang has suggested that the controversial Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) should be abolished as it involves excessive homework drilling.

Tsang said this would be included in his election manifesto. It came days after the Education Bureau decided that the tests will be implemented again for all Primary Three students as the Basic Competency Assessment Research Study (BCA). The move was opposed by parents and lawmakers.

“Childhood is the happiest time of one’s life, if childhood is not happy, it is a life lost at the starting line,” he said. “In the past few years, we saw that Hong Kong children were under so much pressure because of excess TSA homework drills, some even have emotional problems – the pain on children is pain on parents, I felt it as a father and a grandfather.”

John Tsang
John Tsang. Photo: Facebook.

Tsang said Hong Kong’s education system has been plagued by a culture of excess practice for exams, which did not nurture students’ creativity nor diversify knowledge.

He said it was useless to make minor fixes to the assessment in order for it to became the BCA, as he was concerned about the distrust that society, parents and teachers have towards the Education Bureau.

Randomised, anonymous test 

Tsang proposed that a new test could be conducted whereby students were randomly chosen to assess their levels without marking down their names, rather than having all students participating.

Lawmaker Regina Ip, another contender, also said on Friday that she already had plans to issue the same manifesto point.

“I was too busy a few days ago, but I wanted to issue a statement, if I am elected: I will not put forward the TSA tests, at least temporarily – we need to look into it once again,” she said.

regina ip
Regina Ip. File Photo: HKFP.

She also criticised the government for spending almost HK$40 million to rent a short term office for the chief executive-elect.

“This is too extravagant and unnecessary,” she said, adding that she will look into cancelling the lease if she is elected.

Retired judge Woo Kwok-hing, the earliest contender to announce his run, had also suggested in his manifesto that the TSA tests should be abolished.

Contender Carrie Lam said that she agreed the education system has room to improve, and will have a concluding view on the issue after she meets with education sector electors.

Eddie Ng
Eddie Ng. Photo: Facebook.

Meanwhile, Secretary for Education Eddie Ng denied that the new BCA research study was the same as the TSAs.

“This is not only a change in name, but a fundamental change – through redesigning the assessment and reporting means, it can remove the pressure upon schools, teachers and students,” he said. “Abolishing assessment tools will not benefit us, examples in foreign countries have shown,” he 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.