Students fall at English hurdle

August 22, 1997

Failings in Hong Kong's English-language teaching system were highlighted last month with the release of this year's A-level results.

Results showed that fewer than half of the 28,899 candidates who sat A-level English were awarded grade D or above - the standard that is required to gain them entry to university.

The average pass rate (grade E or above) over all subjects for the 30,863 A-level candidates was 71 per cent.

Examinations authority secretary Choi Chee-cheong said that 40.9 per cent, or 12,000 students, achieved university entry grade in English.

Although this is up slightly from 40.5 per cent last year, it still represents a shortfall of 2,500 in the number of students who are suitably qualified to fill the 14,500 university places available in the coming academic year.

Mr Choi said the poor results showed the Hong Kong system was not producing enough quality students.

Cheung Man-kwong, former legislator for the education sector, said that universities in the region had no choice but to lower entry requirements in order to fill all the places available.

Last year, 200 students who failed to achieve grade D or above in English were admitted to Baptist and Lingnan colleges and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

But Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, vice chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that he would rather leave places unfilled than admit students who failed to make the grade.

And Edward Chen Kwan-yiu, president of Lingnan College, said that he would startrecruiting students from overseas if local students could not fulfil the institution's entry requirements.

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