Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said a controversial test for primary three students may not be abolished if society accepts it.

Lam was asked about the Basic Competency Assessment (BCA) – formerly known as the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA). The assessment has sparked concern among some parents and educators who think it generates excessive homework and unnecessary stress for students.

Lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun said Lam must keep a promise, made during her campaign, that the exams will be put on hold before a review is completed. It is uncertain whether the exams – which are normally held in May or June – will take place this year.

Carrie Lam. Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

Lam said at the Legislative Council on Wednesday that she believed the review will be completed soon and denied breaking her election promise.

“If the review is completed and there is an appropriate option that society accepts, then there is no need to put the BCA on hold,” she said.

“Did the review take longer than it should? I am afraid so. But the review is being done scrupulously and carefully. I can promise I will personally pay close attention to the matter,” she added.

She said the review will be led by a committee of professionals.

Ip Kin-yuen. File Photo: In-Media.

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said Lam has changed her stance since the election and the test must be abolished.

Ip said the review committee has been criticised by the education sector for not being representative enough. Professor Magdalena Mok of the Education University resigned in protest over the matter last year.

Ip told Lam at the legislature: “We do not agree that this committee has been conducting its work scrupulously.”

Ip said the committee surveyed parents but not teachers, and criticised the poll for asking leading questions. In a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, which is headed by Ip, 80 per cent of teachers supported abolishing the test.

“This is a very serious issue in determining whether our next generation will continue to suffer from the test,” he said. “There is absolutely no room for vagueness.”

Kris Cheng

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.