As Hong Kong’s population shrinks, school enrolment also drops. There is now a heated debate over the government’s implementation of small-class teaching or class reduction in schools. Schools believe that small-class teaching is the best solution because by reducing the teacher-student ratio, there can be more interaction between teachers and students. However, the government maintains that this applies only to primary levels. For secondary schools, the best solution is to cut the number of S. 1 classes by one in each school.
In about 500 words, write a letter to the Editor of South China Morning Post stating your views on this issue from the perspective of a secondary school student and giving reasons for them. Dear Editor I am writing to express my concerns about the government’s implementation of small-class teaching or class reduction in schools. Due to the declining birth rates, school enrolment has been shrinking. This is a source of great anxiety to many secondary schools as they have trouble enrolling the minimum number of 61 students for their Form One classes.
The Education Bureau introduced a Voluntary Optimisation of Class Structure Scheme which urges schools to reduce new Form One class numbers voluntarily from 5 to 1. However, as a secondary school student, I completely disapprove of this measure. Instead, I support small-class teaching. Small-class teaching is obviously beneficial to students. The following are three main advantages it can bring to students. First of all, teachers can pay individual attention to students. It is extremely likely that in small-class teaching, teachers can have better understanding of students’ individual needs.
On the contrary, in a large class, since teachers focus on the majority of students, students who need more time to digest what they are taught will fall behind. Besides, students can be more actively involved. Since 2005, HKU’s Faculty of Education has conducted a study on the differences of big-and small-class teaching in some secondary schools in Hong Kong by interviewing 274 students in Forms 2 to 4. Many students claimed that they were more daring to ask and answer questions in a smaller class.
Moreover, a group theory in psychology says that people in smaller groups have a better sense of belonging. These show that small-class teaching can provide more chances for students to speak up. In addition, the efficiency of teaching can be raised. It seems that teachers may have much lighter workload because they will receive less homework and fewer tests for marking. Thus, teachers can return the assignments to students sooner and move on to new tasks in a faster pace. Someone may argue that the cost of small-class teaching is too high as more resources will be needed to focus on individual students.
I acknowledge that the expenditure for secondary schools will increase, but I reckon that the rise in expenditure will not be too enormous indeed. According to the estimation of the Professional Teachers’ Union, a drop in student numbers between 2012 and 2016 will help to save HK$13. 85 billion. Hence, after the offset, small-class teaching may only lead to a slight increase in expenditure which should be affordable. Regarding class reduction, I cannot see its actual benefits to students. But its adverse effect is evident.
If class reduction is implemented, many teachers will be unemployed. They will lose their jobs because the teachers will become redundant. In conclusion, although the expenditure for secondary schools will increase, small-class teaching is worth carrying out since teachers can cater for the needs of every student, students can be more actively involved and the efficiency of teaching can be raised. The quality of education should be a top priority. Therefore, I strongly suggest the government implement small-class teaching rather than class reduction.