Face Off: Should HK schools have longer summer holidays?

Face Off: Should HK schools have longer summer holidays?

Time flies when you're having fun, and that's certainly true for summer holidays. So, really, should the holidays be longer?

Rai Arlin, 18, University of Hong Kong

What do you want to be when you grow up? This question is frequently asked during our school life. But it's sad that even most university students do not know the answer.

This is why Hong Kong schools should have longer summer holidays. During this time, we can chill out, develop our interests and build character. With so much free time on our hands, there are many opportunities to explore, while enhancing our knowledge about the world.

When a new school term begins, life becomes hectic for students. All the academic stress builds up, especially for Primary Six and Secondary Six students, as they start applying for secondary schools and universities, respectively. This means that their interests are sacrificed for academic success.

Does a longer summer holiday seem unrealistic? Just look at Finland. The country's education system consistently ranks among the best in global surveys such as the Global Innovation Index and the World Economic Forum's rankings. In Finland, students spend more time developing their hobbies than in the classroom.

During the summer holidays, students can also develop their communication and other skills by volunteering or doing part-time jobs. With the exams over and feeling completely stress-free, they can make use of this free time to prepare for the future. And the best way to do it is to gain practical experience.

A longer summer holiday can be a "precious reward" for students to develop their interests and hopefully decide on the career they want to pursue. This is a far better incentive than just asking them to study harder.

Ji Min Kang, 17, Chinese International School

Around the world, the length of the summer holidays has become a controversial issue. A summer vacation gives students the opportunity to unwind while discovering their strengths and new hobbies.

However, changing the school calendar can be harmful to their school life.

On a practical level, our current holidays are long enough. Many secondary school summer programmes suit our current schedule, and although critics say these courses could be a bit longer, most of them already offer good training. Therefore, lengthening the summer holiday would bring no extra benefits whatsoever.

For those who aren't able to attend or afford these activities, the consequences of a longer summer holiday are worrying. Studies show that summer holidays, combined with Hong Kong's massive income gap, would not benefit students from poor families.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell shows that students from rich families spend a lot more time attending extra tutorials during the summer break than their less-privileged peers. This means the longer the summer holiday, the worse things will be for poor students when they return to school for the new term.

In a place such as Hong Kong where the rich-poor gap is becoming ever wider, this is a risk that we should never take.

Our summer holidays are just fine. For the sake of efficiency and equality, let us not lengthen them.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Should HK schools have longer summer holidays?


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