Personal Development & Interpersonal Relationships

NSS academic structure reform must be pragmatic

The authorities have decided to slim down the New Senior Secondary (NSS) curriculum to reduce its burden on teachers and students, which is a pragmatic pragmatic (adj) 務實的 arrangement in response to the demands of front-line educators. On the road of education reform education reform	教育改革 ahead, there must be no loss in shape along with continued enhancement.

The NSS curriculum has been a key education reform project since Hong Kong's handover. Technically, it bridges to the change to a four-year university academic structure. In concept, it saves students from "determining the future with an exam" and information cramming cramming (n) 	死記硬背 that leads to their having "high marks with low abilities". It has become a highly difficult challenge changing from the education system people are so used to.

The reform has scrapped the HKCEE and HKAL, replacing them with the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) Examination and students may now take one public exam less before entering university. To avoid "determining the future with an exam", the authorities have launched other means of pursuing further education such as associate degree courses and have reforms in examination and teaching contents, including the introduction of a school-based assessment school-based assessment	校本評核 mechanism that has the students' daily learning performance assessment at school account for 15 to 20 per cent of a subject's total marks.

Schools have more make-up classes than before

To reduce the rote rote (n) 	死記硬背 component, and in the hope of students' mastery of what they have learnt so as not to lose touch with society, the authorities launched the compulsory subject of liberal studies and the school-based assessment requires students to make independent enquiry studies. The authorities require students to complete certain class hours of other learning experience other learning experience	其他學習經歷 , such as taking part in volunteer work outside school.

These requirements are more flexible than the original exam system, but they have forced many schools to adjust their teaching models to enhance the local education quality and nurture a new generation that is adapted to life in modern society. For schools to contribute to the reform, whether it is for their education philosophies or marks in public exams, they have to put in a large amount of extra resources including manpower, material resources and time.

Reforms are usually powered by good ideas but from implementation of ideas to promotion, they will be hampered by various realistic conditions. If ideas run ahead and are not favoured by the situation, it will not only have detrimental effects but also produce various unexpected side-effects, which will be counter-productive counter-productive (adj)	弄巧反拙的 .

In the process of implementing the NSS curriculum, according to the opinion of the majority of schools, the most controversial are liberal studies; business, accounting & financial studies; the school-based assessment mechanism and insufficient class hours. Implementation proves that the scope of some subjects are too wide and together with school-based assessment taking up too much extra time, thought and administration work, many schools do not have enough time to complete the teaching requirements and have to use summer and winter vacations for make-up classes.

Pressure higher than before in taking exam

The pressure on teachers greatly increases and the pressure on students similarly continues to increase. The original intent intent (n)	意圖 is to resolve the pressure of "determining the future with an exam" but now the pressure before an exam does not decrease and has even spread all over the senior secondary school stage. A questionnaire poll questionnaire poll	問卷調查 has revealed that the pressure felt by HKDSE candidates is no less than that of the former HKCEE. Part of the pressure comes from concerns arising from not being familiar with the new system but this will naturally disappear with better understanding and familiarity familiarity (n)	熟習 with its operation. For example, 90 per cent of the candidates passed in the first year liberal studies exam, which relieves the concerns of many teachers and students. The other pressure comes from underestimating the restrictions of the realistic environment when designing the exam models and content, requiring the authorities to make enhancement in the policies.

The authorities now address issues such as not having enough class hours, reducing the exam scopes of some of the subjects and cancelling the school-based assessment of certain subjects to reduce the time taken up by other learning experience . It is in response to the most urgent issues. The NSS academic structure is correct in direction and must not look back but problems will keep emerging in the implementation, which will require the authorities to keep on making improvements.


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