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Secondary school top scorers draw up wish list for Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam

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Six perfect scorers have drawn up their wish list for the city’s new leader, asking her to put herself in Hongkongers’ shoes and work to heal a divided society, as secondary school graduates on Wednesday received their results for their final public examination.


Aside from welcoming Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s promised HK$5 billion boost to the education sector, the top students, all hailing from so-called “elite schools”, discussed their own aspirations, revealing that all of them intend to pursue degrees in medicine or dentistry.

Of the six students – out of 60,300 candidates – with perfect scores in this year’s Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exams, two of them are from St Paul’s Co-educational College in Central, one from Queen’s College in Causeway Bay, one from Belilios Public School in Tin Hau, one from Diocesan Girls’ College in Yau Ma Tei and one from Munsang College in Kowloon City.

Places at these schools are traditionally highly sought after by parents.

Maggie Lam Li-man from Diocesan Girls' School hugs her mother, Catherine Tsui. Photo: Dickson Lee

The six high-fliers attained the highest level of 5** in seven subjects. Two students with special educational needs ­attained 5** in four subjects.

Top scorer Maggie Lam Li-man, 18, from Diocesan Girls' College also got level 5** for the extended mathematics module.

Asked about her thoughts on the new chief executive, she said: “I think we have to wait and see what her policies will be.”

She said she hoped Carrie Lam would make “Hongkongers’ benefits” her top priority.

The Diocesan Girls’ student said she wanted to enter medical school in Hong Kong but had not decided which university to apply to.

Leung Kwun-hong of Munsang College wants to study dentistry. Photo: Dickson Lee

Leung Kwun-hong, 17, the top-scorer from Munsang, said he hoped the city’s leader would “put herself in Hongkongers’ shoes” when it came to various controversies affecting the city.

As for his own aspirations, Leung said he wanted to study medicine, dentistry in particular, at the University of Hong Kong.

“I never expected such a good grade," Leung said. "I had been suffering from insomnia for a long time [before the exams]. When I called my friend [about the pressure], I wanted to cry but I just couldn’t.

“Last night, I asked my mother whether she would have money to send me abroad if I failed the exam,” he said with a laugh.

Angela Sze Yik-yan from Belilios Public School with her father, Sze Chung-fng, and mother, Lan Yuk-siu. Photo: David Wong

Angela Sze Yik-yan, the top scorer from Belilios, said she hoped the new administration could better unite the city, which she believed had become “rather chaotic” after the pro-democracy Occupy Central movement in 2014.

“Social movements are a good chance for students to learn about society, but we should pursue universal suffrage step by step,” she said.

Sze said she wanted to become a doctor because she was interested in biology and had volunteered at hospitals.

The 17-year-old said she had spent about 15 hours a day studying since February and put inspiring phrases on memo stickers on her desk, such as: “God rewards the diligent.”

The student said she wished for more tolerance and harmony in Hong Kong and expressed sympathy for Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo “because he is seriously sick”. The ailing dissident has terminal liver cancer and is seeking to leave China to receive treatment overseas.

Tang Wai-chin (left) and Li Hong-hin of St Paul's Co-Educational College both hope to study medicine. Photo: David Wong

The two top scorers at St. Paul’s, Li Hong-hin and Tang Wai-chin, said they both aspired to study medicine at one of Hong Kong’s top public universities.

“I participated in mentorship programmes relating to medicine, visited hospitals and audited university lectures, which sparked my interest in medicine,” Li said.

Likewise, Tang, who said she favoured staying in the city despite having offers from top British universities, shadowed paediatricians when she was in Form 5.

Tang previously volunteered as a tutor for South Asian children from low-income families in Tseung Kwan O. She said she wished to continue teaching in her free time this summer.

“Hong Kong is a society where doing well in school is a prerequisite for succeeding, so I want to help students forge a better path and empower their desire to learn," she said.

Richard Choi Wai-chak of Queen's College with his parents. Photo: David Wong

The top scorer from Queen’s College, Richard Choi Wai-chak, 18, said he wished to study medicine but had not decided which university to attend.

Choi said he appreciated the government’s plans to increase education spending and suggested that it put more resources towards developing IT talents and supporting underprivileged students.

Fifteen students with physical disabilities from Red Cross Princess Alexandra School in Kwun Tong took the exams this year, with the highest scorer achieving level 4 in one of his best five subjects, level 3 in two subjects, and level 2 and level 1 in the remaining two subjects.

Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at birth, the student, who declined to give his name, relies on a respirator and wheelchair in his everyday life and has difficulty writing.

He started to prepare for the exam from Form 3, one year earlier than usual.

Deputy principal Lam Ka-wah said the student is likely to apply for programmes at the Vocational Training Council or the Institute of Vocational Education because his English result did not meet the minimum requirement for university admission.

Lam said he hoped the government could provide more resources to support students with special education needs after their graduation. He said most such students could not find jobs in many industries due to mental or physical disabilities.

The deputy principal said that the government’s new plan to increase the teacher-to-class ratio could benefit the students. With more teachers, he said, schools could provide better education catering to students’ special needs.

About 41 per cent of the 51,008 day school students taking the DSE achieved the minimum ­requirement for local undergraduate programmes, 1.3 percentage points down on last year, according to the Examinations and Assessment Authority.

To get into university, students need at least a level three in Chinese and English language, and a level two in maths and liberal studies.

A total of 20,885 made the cut, meaning there will be a little less competition for the 15,000 ­subsidised first-year degree places at the eight local public universities than last year.

That still means more than 5,800 students who meet the basic entry requirements may have to take costly self-financing programmes.

But these students could enjoy HK$30,000 a year in subsidies if the chief executive’s proposed HK$3.6 billion boost for education spending is passed by the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee.

Overall performance in English language was slightly worse than last year, with those attaining level 2 and above or level 3 and above falling by about three percentage points to 77 per cent and 52.2 per cent respectively among day school students.

About 60,300 candidates, ­including those at night schools, sat the examination, down from about 66,900 last year.

The oldest candidate was a 68-year-old man who took two subjects, while the youngest were two 14-year-olds, with one taking six subjects and the other five.

Reporting by Shirley Zhao, Peace Chiu, Xinqi Su, Ben Pang, Nicola Chan, Hana Davis, Brian Wong and Tracy Zhang



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