Ms Cynthia Chan
Principal Education Officer (Special Services)
The anti-extradition law amendment incident has brought great challenges to the entire society, including the education sector. All along, the Education Bureau (EDB) has stayed in close contact with schools to join hands to maintain a safe, stable and peaceful environment for students to learn as usual and grow up healthily. During the social incidents, certain students, possibly be misled or instigated, were arrested for suspected participation in unlawful activities or even charged. The situation is distressing. However, some were able to turn over a new leaf by reflecting on the social incident, actively finding their direction in life and uncovering their potential on the right path. Whether these students can reintegrate into normal school and social life in fact hinges on the support from schools and parents.
The EDB issued a circular memorandum in June 2020, calling on schools to enhance the follow-up work and relevant support at the school level for students affected by the social incidents. Schools were urged to nurture students’ positive values and positive thinking, as well as formulate and implement a personalised follow-up plan for individual students in need in accordance with the circumstances. In August 2020, a seminar titled “Caring for Students and Helping them Get Back on the Right Track” was organised for all local secondary schools, with a view to providing information and strategies for schools to support students more effectively. To provide further support to schools, the EDB has, starting from the beginning of the 2020/21 school year, paid visits to secondary schools one after another and met with school personnel to discuss their follow-up support plans. Through professional exchange, we assisted schools to review their relevant student support work and explore together effective support strategies, so as to enhance values education.
Working together through multi-disciplinary collaboration
Schools have formulated their own support strategies based on their needs. To step up support service at the school level, many schools have worked out responsive measures and contingency plans in advance under their crisis management mechanism, and kept a close watch on students’ behaviour. Once they are aware that individual students require support (like those arrested for involvement in the social incidents), their crisis management team can be activated immediately. Relevant teachers and social workers work together and take care of the emotional needs of the students concerned and provide them with counselling. Schools are encouraged to communicate actively with different stakeholders, including school sponsoring bodies, school managers, alumni and members of the parent-teacher association, in order to devise various follow-up strategies with the common wish to protect students.
In fact, when schools have a solid and robust foundation for provision of preventive guidance and discipline service, they should be capable of helping the students affected by the social incidents effectively. By making use of different assessment tools and materials such as the Assessment Program for Affective and Social Outcomes developed by the EDB, schools can analyse students’ needs for whole-person development and review the effectiveness of their relevant measures. We are glad to learn that some schools have developed a comprehensive school-based curriculum for their personal growth/life education lessons. For example, thematic sessions on information literacy are specifically arranged to share with students on how to verify facts and discern authenticity of information. There are others that have created a loving and caring school culture with good teacher-student relationship. These schools are able to provide appropriate counselling for students according to their emotional and psychological needs, devise improvement plans with these students, and seek parents’ co-operation in implementation.
We have all along been encouraging schools to enhance positive, moral and personal growth education, and formulate personalised follow-up plans for students in need to bring them back on the right track by tapping community resources and soliciting parents’ cooperation. To enable schools to support students in need in a more focused and effective manner, we will share information on arrest/prosecution of students gathered through different channels with relevant schools as appropriate, in the hope that schools can provide personalised support services that are most appropriate to the needs of the students concerned.
Discerning right from wrong and exercising self-discipline
Students will be self-disciplined and law-abiding if they have the ability to distinguish right from wrong and have developed a sense of empathy. Accumulation of the acquired knowledge helps to discern right from wrong, and empathy cultivates our character development. Schools may, through different kinds of activities such as morning assemblies and classroom teaching, and the use of simulation videos, newspaper reports and role-playing, guide students in thinking in multiple perspectives and making proper use of information, so as to ultimately distinguish right from wrong. Last October, the Curriculum Development Council recommended the inclusion of “law-abidingness” and “empathy” as priority values and attitudes in order to enable students to understand that law-abidingness is the basic responsibility of citizens. Students can also learn to empathise and put themselves in others’ shoes, respect different opinions and in turn help create a harmonious and caring society. We hope that schools will seriously consider these priorities and formulate a holistic plan to cultivate positive values and attitudes among students.
Consolidating experiences and forging ahead together
Sustained efforts are essential in the developmental and preventive guidance and discipline work. We will continue to conduct school visits and communicate actively with schools, as well as offer advice on the planning, implementation and deliverables of student support measures. Moreover, we will organise sharing sessions after collecting information from more schools about their student support strategies, with a view to exchanging insights and consolidating experiences. We hope that together with school staff, we can help students cultivate positive values and nurture them into good law-abiding citizens.
8 February 2021