Parents and teachers have threatened to boycott a “revamped” version of the controversial Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) tests for primary three students in Hong Kong. The tests are scheduled to take place between May and June.

Photo: RTHK screenshot.

RTHK reported that some 150 parents’ and teachers’ organisations, including the Hong Kong Professional Teachers Union, formed an alliance on Sunday opposing the resumption of the public school tests. The new tests are known as the Basic Competency Assessments (BCA).

Many demanded the abolition of the controversial TSAs in 2015, saying that the assessments were beyond student capabilities and caused stress as they could not be completed without practice.

A voluntary trial of the new BCA tests was conducted in some 50 primary schools last year.

In January, the Education Bureau said that it would expand the tests to all primary schools this year. Education chief Eddie Ng claimed that the BCA tests were a “research study,” but did not answer directly as to whether schools could opt out.

No reason for training

On Sunday morning, Ng said that all 500 local primary schools in Hong Kong would participate in the tests: “If the schools don’t participate… it won’t help the schools receive feedback information to improve the education of its own students.”

Ng claimed that the BCAs were not a resumption of the TSAs. He added that there was no reason why schools should compete with each other and train their students to obtain better results.

eddie ng
Eddie Ng. File photo: GovHK.

The newly-formed anti-TSA alliance demanded on Sunday afternoon that the Education Bureau cancel the BCA tests. Spokesperson Annie Cheung said that some 800 parents have told the alliance that they would boycott them.

Training begins

“Regardless of whether we boycott them, schools today have already started training [students] for the tests,” said Cheung.

“Most of the homework during the Lunar New Year holidays was actually training for the TSAs. We received quite a few complaints from parents.”

Cheung added that there were no concrete plans at present as to how the proposed boycott would take place.

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen also called on the Education Bureau not to carry out the new BCA tests. He accused the bureau of simply resuming the old TSA tests under a new name.

ip kin yuen
Ip Kin-yuen. File Photo: Ip Kin-yuen, via Facebook.

All three candidates in the upcoming chief executive elections have made statements opposed to the “revamped” TSA tests.

Former financial secretary John Tsang and former judge Woo Kwok-hing have said they would cancel the tests. Former chief secretary Carrie Lam, rumoured to be Beijing’s preferred candidate, said last week that she would “shelve” the tests pending a review of the city’s education policies.

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.