Patricia Abundo, 18, AUT University, New Zealand
There is big debate about early starting times for schools. It is widely believed that a lack of sleep causes students to lose their concentration in class, and that a later start time could prevent this. I disagree.
First, most students have an active after-school schedule. If school ends late, their tutorials and extra-curricular activities will take place later in the evening. This means they have less time to relax after a long, tiring school day.
Second, many students take public transport to go home. Ending the school day later would mean they have to battle with the rush-hour crowd at bus stops and train stations. By the time they get home, they would be very tired. And what about the homework and assignments they have to hand in the next day?
Third, starting school later may not be good for those who function better early in the morning. The entire school system shouldn't be changed just to suit a small number of students who struggle to wake up early.
Finally, secondary students who come from poor families do part-time jobs to lessen the burden on their parents. Finishing school late would interfere with their jobs, and reduce their earnings. This could worsen families' financial difficulties, putting more pressure on the students.
In conclusion, I believe it all comes down to proper time management. School is said to prepare students for the real world, and it all begins with getting an early, productive start to the day.
Michelle Fasching, 17, Maryknoll Convent School
Ever been so tired you can barely stay awake in class? Or do you regularly skip breakfast so that you are not late for school? Well, you're not the only one.
In Hong Kong, most schools start between 7.30am and 8.30am. Some students who live in the countryside have to wake up at 5am just to get to school on time. That's even before sunrise!
Secondary students need at least nine hours of sleep every night. Without enough sleep, they won't be able to concentrate in class. This leads to slower learning, making their time at school less beneficial than it should be. Those who cannot keep up with their studies have to take private tuition.
If school started later, students could get more sleep and their grades would improve. Even if school finished later, they wouldn't need to go to after-school tutorials, as they would have paid full attention in class.
What's more, starting school later would enable students to have a healthier lifestyle. They would eat breakfast - the most important meal of the day - every day. Then they would have enough energy for the first few lessons of the day.
Skipping breakfast is extremely unhealthy for growing teenagers. They don't get enough nutrients, so they are often more tired and more easily distracted.
Schools should start and end later because it would be beneficial to students' learning, lifestyle and health.