More than half of Hong Kong primary school teachers say that their students receive at least seven pieces of homework every weekday, according to a survey.

Eight percent of teachers say that students receive ten or more pieces of homework per day.

Children Child
File photo: GovHK.

The poll was conducted by the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union among 425 primary school teachers – mostly teaching Chinese, English and Mathematics. It took place between December 5 last year and January 15.

Eighty-five percent of teachers added that their students received at least seven pieces of homework every weekend, while just under 40 percent of teachers said that students receive at least ten pieces.

Sixty percent of teachers said they received complaints from parents about the volume of homework given to their children.

The respondents mostly attributed the volume of homework to a large and complicated curriculum set by the Education Bureau, a culture of drilling for exams, preparations for the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) tests, and the large number of policies promoted by the bureau.

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On Thursday, the Professional Teachers’ Union announced its findings at a press conference featuring primary school teachers speaking about their experiences.

Professional Teachers Union HKPTU
Professional Teachers’ Union press conference. Photo: Screenshot via Facebook.

“Even though [the Education Bureau] says it wants us to loosen the ropes and create space, on the other hand it gives us a lot of ‘teaching advice’ and ‘objectives’,” said teacher Wong Mo-yee.

“To fulfil these policy objectives we have to force more activities and homework upon the children.”

Another teacher – Lo Ka-ki – gave examples of bureau initiatives such as implementing self-directed learning, thinking skills courses and electronic learning. She said that all of them included guides to give different types of homework assignments for children, while there were no initiatives that allowed teachers to reduce the amount of existing homework.

Malicious competition

Education sector legislator Ip Kin-yuen said that the bureau must take action to stop the culture of malicious competition in Hong Kong schools, where students compete for results at the expense of other forms of personal development. He added that the bureau must reduce the size of the primary school curriculum.

“Or else children will not even have the basic time to rest, and their bodies, health and emotional well-being will be affected.”

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

Fifty-four percent of teachers surveyed by the Professional Teachers’ Union also said that their primary school students had to attend one or two make-up classes per week to catch up with the syllabus. Thirty-three per cent of teachers said students had to attend more than two such classes per week.

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