Thursday, April 16, 2020,22:47
DSE arrangements seen as 'acceptable' and 'thoughtful'
By Kathy Zhang
Thursday, April 16, 2020, 22:47 By Kathy Zhang

In this undated photograph, students take the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE). (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

HONG KONG - Secondary school principals and senior students sitting this year’s Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) examination praised new arrangements for the test as “acceptable” and “thoughtful”.

The comments came a day after the Education Bureau (EDB) announced that the HKDSE - Hong Kong’s college entrance examination - will go ahead on April 24 as scheduled.

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It is convenient for universities, secondary schools, examinees and parents to prepare in advance for any possible change and make plans accordingly

Tang Fei, Principal, Heung To Secondary School

The EDB also shared three alternative options in case of a contingency. Those include further delaying the tests to May 22, or to June 11, or canceling them altogether in a worst-case scenario.

Originally scheduled to be held on March 27, the tests were rescheduled for April 24 amid a fast worsening novel coronavirus outbreak.

Yuen Kwok-ming, principal of Caritas Tuen Mun Marden Foundation Secondary School, said it is acceptable that the HKDSE exams will begin on April 24 as Hong Kong was recently seeing single-digit confirmed cases and candidates who had been preparing for the exams under immense pressure would not want it to be delayed again. 

Tang Fei, principal of Heung To Secondary School (Tseung Kwan O), described the alternative options as tabled by the government as thoughtful. “It is convenient for universities, secondary schools, examinees and parents to prepare in advance for any possible change and make plans accordingly,” Tang said.  

The coronavirus outbreak threw up an unprecedented challenge for both schools and examinees this year. 

Yuen’s school has about 40 DSE candidates this year, including about six Muslim students. 

With the month of Ramadan beginning in late April, it will be a physical ordeal for fasting Muslim examinees as they cannot eat anything during daytime when most of the exams will take place. The exams will continue for at least three weeks. 

Teachers have been deeply caring about students’ wellbeing and are constantly in touch via phone calls, Yuen said.

For DSE examinee Tony Lee, it would be ideal if the DSE started on April 24. In view of the declining number of COVID-19 cases, he believes students’ safety can be ensured with adequate preventive measures.

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It is a “torture” for many DSE examinees this year, as they needed to keep their spirit up for such a long time after the exams had to be postponed, said Lee. They also needed to tweak their revision strategy as per exam arrangement, he said. “I do hope the exams this time can be held smoothly and safely,” Lee said.

Tang is hopeful that the examinees can pull themselves together. He encouraged students to regard the difficulties and burdens brought on by the pandemic as a test and an important life lesson.

Contact the writer at kathyzhang@chinadailyhk