SCMP Monday, July 31, 2000

Parents would support better exam: survey


Most parents and students want a fair, relevant school entry examination to replace the abolished Academic Aptitude Test, a survey has found.

Results of the poll were released yesterday ahead of the last day of public consultation on Education Commission reforms. There have been nearly 6,000 submissions.

A welfare services group, the Sheng Kung Hui Lady MacLehose Centre, which carried out the survey in June and July, found nearly 70 per cent of 1,627 respondents supported the decision to abolish the controversial Academic Aptitude Test for Primary Six. The test was used to decide which secondary school children attended, but was criticised for putting too much pressure on pupils.

But more than 60 per cent said they preferred to see a new form of secondary school entry exam adopted rather than having no test at all.

An equal number agreed the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination should be scrapped because it put too much pressure on students.

"The survey shows that most parents and students are dissatisfied with the contents of the examination [academic aptitude test], rather than the examination itself," said centre spokesman Li Fu-pang.

He said relevant and well-designed examinations could help motivate students and allow them to switch to their ideal schools.

"In other places like Taiwan, Singapore and even the United States, examinations are not abolished altogether.

"What we should do is to revise the content and make it more relevant to the subjects and more creative," Mr Li said.

The Education Commission is considering widening school district nets to give more choices for parents and students in Primary One selections, commission member Tso Kai-lok said. "Maybe 1.5 existing school nets will be incorporated as one, or three nets may be merged into two. But we have yet to work out the details," he said. Under the commission's proposal, some 85 per cent of Primary One school places will be allocated according to where a student lives. That means primary schools will be allowed to select only 15 per cent of new Primary One students, instead of the current 65 per cent.