A recent government report found there was no direct link between the education system and 71 student suicides between 2013 and 2016. The report, by the Committee on Prevention of Student Suicides, has caused mixed reactions.
At a special Legislative Council meeting on Saturday, students and parents gave accounts of long school days, over-stretched teaching staff and hours of homework.
Primary Three student Wong Long-fun said he could barely rest, with two hours of daily homework. Another young student, Chan Yu-ling, who is now an international school student, compared local schools to a “prison”.
Shahryar Naeem, 18, from the University of Hong Kong, told Young Post the education system only played an indirect role in student suicides. “Social expectations are the main causes of student suicide,” he said. “We need to do well academically and secure a good job. Such pressure could make many students depressed.”
Henry Lui, a 17-year-old student from Sha Tin College, agreed that the education system itself wasn’t to blame, but attitudes had to change. “I think that the education system is itself a product of the Hong Kong attitude towards children, how we demand them to go into ‘respectable’ professions and pursue ‘meaningful’ careers,” he said.
A secondary school teacher, who asked not to be named, said: “You can blame the education system for giving us a heavy workload and endless working hours, but I don’t think the system directly led to all student suicides.”
“What students actually need is emotional support,” she said.
There is help out there. These are 24-hour hotlines if you need to talk:
- The Samaritans: 2896 0000
- The Samaritan Befrienders offers online support: help4suicide.com.hk
- Suicide Prevention Service: 2382 0000
- HKFYG Counselling Service: 2777 8899
- HKFYG uTouch Portal has an online chat forum from 2pm to midnight (Monday to Saturday) at utouch.hk