If you have been following the debate in Hong Kong recently about the claims of falling standards, class sizes and funding issues, you could be forgiven for thinking that we were falling behind the rest of the world. Unless, that is, you had been following a similar debate taking place in Britain. In fact, declining standards in education, particularly secondary education, do seem to be prevalent in many countries.
And I think us older people sometimes think we know the answers. Lack of discipline, parental abdication of responsibility - a particularly Western trait - the "shorthand" being used in social networking communications, and the list goes on. Pay also often being a factor.
There is also the fact that teachers are being asked to do more than they have been used to - but with fewer resources. There are some legitmate reasons therefore why standards have fallen - or have been put under pressure.
But get this.
The Economist Intelligence Unit has just published some analysis which resulted in them listing their Top Schools in the world. British schools came sixth. A position that has surprised some, because it was lower than they would have liked, and others because it is a lot higher than they expected. But the British media reported it as a real positive. One snippet was "... high numbers of teenagers progressing to higher education account for Britain's position, along with strong maths and science results." (The Times).
First of all, I wonder how the Hong Kong media would have reported this 6th place achievement. As a positive? Hmm. Possibly not. Well, maybe I should reveal the names of some of the other countries who appeared in the top 10.
In first place, where they have been for a long time - Finland. So, Hong Kong parents, you want the best education system in the world you know where to go. The next 4 - that is the countries that beat Britain - are all Asian and include the usual suspects - South Korea, Japan and Singapore, in 2nd, 4th and 5th places respectively! And in 3rd place - yes, you will have worked it out, our very own, Hong Kong.
Now then, I am not so stupid (well I don't think I am) as to believe everything I read. I too have concerns about the quality of education in a number of the countries with which I am involved, Hong Kong included and I am sure you could pick holes in the Economist list, but they are a respected publication - globally. So what about it Hong Kong media - any gaps in your front page to record Hong Kong's position - or does it go so much against everything you have written so far on the subject - pushing the popular anti-Government view that you would be embarrassed to do so?
Just trying to say, once again, that we are not as bad as we like to believe we are!