A group of parents in Tai Po are planning to organise their children to carry out a class boycott next week in protest against the controversial Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) exams for primary school students.
On a Facebook group, set up by parents concerned about the impact of the TSA tests, the parents planning the protests stated that it was hoped to put pressure on the government by boycotting class for three days from next Tuesday.
Mr Wong, a member of the group, told local TV station i-cable that his daughter, who is in Primary One, was required to do practice papers for the TSA exams, just two months after school started. He said he told the school that the workload was too much, but it was not reduced.
“I will not let her go to school, and if the school calls us, [I would say] it was not the school’s fault, it was the government’s fault,” Wong said, “Of course we do not want a school strike, it will affect the children’s progress in study, but if we do not do that, the government will not care about us.”
Wong added that about 70 parents of students studying in three schools in Tai Po have agreed to his plan, including parents from HK & Kowloon Kaifong Women’s Association Sun Fong Chung Primary School where his daughter is enrolled.
The school’s principal Lo Sau-chee told the TV station that she would contact the parents. She stressed that the school did not force students to do practice papers for the TSA, that the last hour of a school day was allocated to finishing homework before going home, and that TSA practice papers would only be given before long holidays.
Lo added that she was worried about the children’s study progress if the strike goes ahead, as regular school exams were scheduled in December.
The Education Bureau told the station that it was was worried about the possible negative effect on children if parents led the strike. The bureau said it hoped the parents would communicate more with the schools to reduce pressure from the amount of homework.
‘Listen to parents’
The station also reported that the bureau intended to hold more forums on the TSA to listen to parents’ opinions.
The bureau held a forum last Friday, but some parents said that they were barred from it.
The Legislative Council Panel on Education held a nine-hour long hearing last Sunday to collect public views on the TSA. It was attended by around 130 parents, students, teachers, and representatives from various organisations. LegCo had voted down a motion last week to abolish the TSA.
The TSA tests, 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 the results of the tests do not affect students’ applications for secondary schools or universities, many feel the pressure to perform well. School authorities also give extra work to students to help them score better in TSA exams, as they often feel that the results affect perceptions of the school and its chances of enrolling more students.