Schools need grants for reading

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Dear Editor,

I am a local secondary school’s student and I am writing to express my opinion concerning the Education Bureau’s decision to end the Chinese and English extensive reading scheme grants starting from this school year.

As a student, I feel strongly that reading is beneficial to us and should be promoted more through different channel. Thus, I was shocked when I noticed that this incredible scheme cannot be continued with government support. Meeting venement opposition from the general public and many headmasters of secondary schools, it is crucial for the officials to re-consider their decision in response.

To begin with, reading can change one’s life for good. As the adage goes,’ Knowledge can change your destiny’ , learning and receiving education is of utmost importance to children, especially those who are underprivileged as they are often deprived of the opportunity to gain access to better education and the ones who need to learn knowledge most to get a better job, earn a living for the family and improve their quality of life. Therefore, the Chinese and English extensive reading scheme grants have actually helped a lot. Given the help of the grants, some local schools which lack resources can then buy more books for their students. Then, no matter whether you are wealthy or poor, studying in elite schools or local schools, all of us can enjoy the joyfulness of reading the books we like. For example, some students may be in favour of English novels, whereas they may not be able to read them in the past as it may cause a heavy burden to their families, can finally have the precious chance to read them under the scheme. The scheme let those children who are in financial need receive more chances to read more books and broaden their horizons about the world. Ultimately, they will be no longer lagging behind those with tremendous resources from school and they may then have a level playing field to compete with other students and eventually alleviate the problem of inter-generational poverty. And now why are our Education Bureau, which have adequate resources,  not trying to give a helping hand to those poor children but even take away their chances to read more varieties of books?

Furthermore, reading can enhance students’ interest and attitude of  learning and hence improve their academic performance. The fact that the recent teaching methods used by schools in Hong Kong inhibit students’ interest in learning is really worrying. Under rote learning, students are just reciting what they have learnt every day without profound understanding. Therefore, most of them think that learning is boring and lack interest in it. However, the scheme can help promote reading at school. Some schools even set lessons for students to read. Hence, students may have more chances to read books that they are interested in during school hours. Therefore, it boosts their motivation to learn as they realise that reading and learning can be so much fun! As a consequence, they may be eager to explore more knowledge about the world and have more motivation to study, which may improve their academic performance.

Mr Eddie Ng Hak Kim claimed that young people are now deluged with too many electronic devices, giving them less incentive to read and their reading habit had changed significantly since the subsidies were first introduced. I am sorry to say that it may not be a strong and persuasive reason. In fact, it is just because many youngsters nowadays are addicted to and buried their heads into their smartphones that the Education Bureau should put even more efforts into encouraging students to read instead of watching the situation with folded arms. They should make every endeavour to promote reading among students and encourage them to build a reading habit, and thus a healthier lifestyle.

I was disappointed to know that the Education Bureau sees nothing wrong with the decision to put a halt to this long-standing and advantageous scheme. For the sake of Hong Kong students, it is worthwhile for deploying more resources on this scheme.

Yours faithfully,

Chris Wong