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Local schools getting bogged down with teaching STEM

As the government continues a push towards investing in STEM education, local school teachers can only equip themselves with more appropriate trainings. STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, is a curriculum emphasises on creativity and critical thinking instead of technical skills. Lucas Luk Chi-hang, a chief information officer at Pak Kau College, said that they need to spend more time preparing for lessons and designing courses around research-based approaches. He said the school holds mandatory STEM-related activities almost every Tuesday after school for all Form 1 and 2 students while IT and science related teachers have to tailor the curriculum for students’ needs. "My colleagues and I have to apply for additional training courses by ourselves and we have been busy with our own preparation, especially when we need to redesign what we’ve learnt via outside training," he continued, "because we cannot copy from others directly." "There are always difficulties in the teaching STEM," he added. "We have no option but to voluntarily join a STEM exchange outside of Hong Kong to sharpen our skills and widen our horizons so that we can figure out the most effective and efficient way to teach our students." His anecdotal account is borne out by the latest study by the Youth Research Centre of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Group. Conducted between November and December last year, the survey polled 105 local secondary schools. 78.8% of the schools said that they started STEM education after the one-off grant from the Education Bureau. Schools that responded gave an average of 5.6 points on a scale of zero to ten, with ten denoting "very effective". Five major obstacles encountered by the secondary schools while implementing STEM education were also discussed in the research. Those include insufficient lesson time for STEM education, …

Build an Active Hong Kong Through Healthy Urban Planning

  • 2018-03-14

Jeff Tsang Pui-san, a 19-year-old Hongkonger, seldom exercises. The only chance he gets to work out is during his daily commute, running from his home to the metro station for about 10 minutes. "I live in Cheung Sha Wan, a densely populated district in Hong Kong. Although there is a sports ground near my home, it is usually occupied by trainings as well as athletic meets," Mr. Tsang said. "When it is opened to (the) public, it would be packed with people. This makes it difficult for me to jog there." Mr. Tsang’s level of physical activity is far below the standard recommended by the Hong Kong government, that is, to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Like Mr. Tsang, one-third of the respondents in a  survey conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. said they rarely or did not exercise in the past six months. Yet according to the Planning Department, 2.3 % of the land, equivalent to twice the size of Hong Kong International Airport, is zoned for recreation and sports. An international study conducted by Professor James Sallis of the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California found that urban planning is an important element to encourage people to exercise. The findings also indicated residents who live in activity-friendly environments could achieve 68 to 89 minutes more physical activities a week than others. The report said that people who live in walkable neighbourhoods that are densely populated, have interconnected streets, and are close to shops, services, restaurants, public transport, and parks, tend to be more physically active than those in less walkable areas. This is because a less car-dependent lifestyle means people are more likely to walk. Apart from safety, jobs and access to services, Paul Zimmerman, a district councillor …


Legco By-election: democrats reclaim 2 of 4 places, still losing ground to secure veto power

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Wallis WangEdited by: Ezra Cheung、Raphael Blet、Michelle Ng
  • 2018-03-12

Candidates from the pro-democracy camp eventually managed to retain half of the four disqualified seats in the Legislative Council by-election yesterday, showed in the final voter turnout rate this morning. However, these equal shares do not enable the whole camp to reseize the power to block most bills as it still falls short of the influence significant enough to strike a balance in this semi-democratic legislature's split voting system. Au Nok-hin in Hong Kong Island and Gary Fan Kwok-wai in New Territories East were the two victorious democrats. But the pro-Beijing competitors, Vincent Cheng Wing-shun and Tony Tse Wai-chuen, outran the pro-democracy camp in Kowloon West and the Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape functional constituency respectively. Au, a Southern District Council member who left the Democratic Party last year, obtained 137,181-strong support whilst his pro-Beijing arch-rival, Judy Chan Ka-pui of New People's Party, got 127,634 votes. Gary Fan, current convenor of Neo Democrats, won 183,762 votes to defeat Bill Tang Ka-piu, representing both Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and the Federation of Trade Unions, who got 152,904 votes. This time, Fan acquired 7% more votes than his ally, Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu of Civic Party, in the 2016 by-election. Yeung received 160,880 votes back then. Yet, previously ousted Legislative Councillor, Edward Yiu Chung-yim, failed to recapture the seat in Kowloon West. He requested a re-count at about 5 am because he was just trailing Vincent Cheng by about 2,000 votes. But in the end, he did not manage to combat Cheng's 107,479 votes with his 105,060 votes. Winning the 2016 general election, Yiu was the representative of the Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape functional constituency. But he was disqualified and expelled from the Legco by the High Court for his "improper" oath-taking following Beijing's interpretation of Article …


Highlights on Carrie Lam's First Policy Address

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Sharon PunEdited by: Cecilia Wong、Isabella Lo、Daisy Lee、James Ho
  • 2017-10-11

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor kicked off her first Policy Address of 2017-2018 by emphasising "one country two systems" this morning in the Legislative Council.   She quoted President Xi Jin-ping's remarks during his visit to the city in July, that the framework of "one country two systems" is the best path for Hong Kong.   Pinpointing on her maiden policy, she introduced the two-tier taxation system in which the profit tax rate is lowered from 16.5% to 8.25% for the first $2 million. Rate beyond $2 million remains unchanged. The government will set limits to big corporations, so that only one of the subsidiaries can be benefited.   For housing, Lam put emphasis on the "Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Pilot Scheme" which is expected to offer more than 4000 public housing flats by the end of 2018.   Lam detailed the "Starter Homes" plan in cooperation with private developers to help young families with the income capped by about 30% higher than the home ownership ownership limits get onto the housing ladder.     To alleviate the existing pressure on housing, Lam suggested several measures to increase transitional housing supply, such as utilising idle governmental premises to provide rental housings, and converting industrial building into transitional housing with land premium wavering.   Lam suggests providing a maximum of $300 monthly travelling allowance to each Octopus user who spends over $400 on commuting by MTR, franchised buses, green minibuses and ferries. The policy using the dividends from MTR Corporation is expected to benefit 2 million citizens territory-wide.   In order to encourage the youth's voices in policy discussion, she said the government will increase the ratio of teenagers within her government to 15%.  In addition, the government will recruit more than 20 young people to take part in …


Help Yourself !

Self-ordering technology at restaurants has been around in the United State and Japan for at least 20 years. But here in Hong Kong, the demand for self-ordering technology has gone up over the past three years, according to Hans Paul, co-founder of a self-ordering solution provider. Profits of his company has tripled every year. Fast food chain restaurants, including McDonald's, started providing self-ordering service in mid-2015. Customers simply tap on a screen to choose their food. The automated system then charges users' credit cards and all they need to do then is just pick up the food once it is ready. Not only fast food chains but also other businesses or canteens in hospitals and universities starts to adopt this technology. For example, Citibank, Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital and City University of Hong Kong have installed self-ordering kiosks in their canteens. "As self-ordering technology becomes popular, customers will get used to it and use it efficiently. Other fast food restaurants such as Café De Coral or Fairwood will then have the confidence to develop it too," said Leung Wai-keung, Associate Professor of Marketing at City University of Hong Kong. Leung thinks the rising popularity of "self-ordering" has to do with the fast-paced lifestyle of Hong Kong. He said self-ordering service greatly reduces the waiting time for food ordering. This kind of time-saving model meets Hong Kong people's need, leading to the increasing trend of the service, he said. Leung pointed out that difficulties in hiring also contributes to the popularity of self-ordering systems. Labour cost is going up, plus few job seekers are willing to take on the heavy workload in the food and beverage industry. Paul thinks self-ordering solutions allow catering businesses to reallocate their human resources. They can cut out the cashiers and instead, hire staffs to …


The Fall and Rise of Traditional Craftsmanship

Whilst time has been slipping away, some local handiwork stay. Tucked away in Shau Kei Wan, an old fishing village on the Northeastern shore of Hong Kong Island, a small shop is all that's left of a Chinese tradition in Hong Kong. Lai Hing Kee Embroidery has been selling handcrafted quilts and Chinese wedding gowns for over half a decade. In recent years, Lai Sum, 49, who is the third owner of the 53-year-old shop, has stopped selling and renting out what he calls "obsolete" items, such as wedding dresses and towel quilts, some of which are on the First Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory of Hong Kong. "Our business has not been doing well. To be honest, if this shop(鋪位) is not owned by my family, it would have been closed down long ago," said Lai, whose grandfather bought the shop in its early years. It started off as a traditional wedding supplies store, selling bedclothes and wedding gowns. "Many fishermen in Shau Kei Wan took traditional Chinese wedding customs, such as wearing a highly embroidered red silk dress with a pair of dragon and phoenix, very seriously back then," said Lai. A few years ago, the government Intangible Cultural Heritage Office visited their shop for a week and recorded the quilt making procedures, which ended up in the First Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory of Hong Kong, said Lai. The office was set up in 2004 according to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. According to the convention, the aim is to safeguard heritage through "identification, documentation, research, preservation, protection, promotion, enhancement, transmission, as well as revitalization ". Yet all Lai received was a certificate from the office, which he considers of no help to his …

Health & Environment

The Online Hotbed for Illegal Drugs

Blue pills - the story ends, you wake up in your bed, believing whatever you want to believe. Red pills - you stay in Wonderland, knowing how deep the rabbit hole goes. Sixteen-year-old Amy chose a set of pills from Yanhee Hospital which promised "a safe and effective hallucination". Convinced by the photos and videos posted by an online shop on Instagram, she paid $300 to buy this medication. "On the first day, I felt dizzy after taking the medicine. My heart was pounding very fast and I was always thirsty. I couldn't fall asleep no matter how sleepy I was. The next day, I felt so weak as if I was floating. Eventually, I couldn't take it anymore. I felt like dying," Amy said. "I asked the shop owner why I was suffering through WhatsApp. The medicine had no disclaimer on its possible effects. The owner said everyone might react differently, and that I should quit if I was sick," she added. Social media has become a hotbed for illegal drug trade. By law, substances used for medical purposes must  be registered with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong before sale. But this is often not the case for medicine sold online. Between 2014 and 2016, there were  23 convictions linked to illegal drug sales on social media, according to the Drug Office. Common drugs offered on social media include those that promise to improve one's appearance, such as breast enhancement or make you grow taller. They come under names such as Cosmoslim, Slim Perfect Legs and Yanhee. Input the keywords on Instagram and you get hundreds of posts of pills. Online drug sellers often claim there is no medication in their products and that they are approved by the foreign agencies. For example, an online post …


Special kids, Special Needs

Legislators call for a review of education policies to help Special Educational Needs students Becky Liu is a year three student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She was diagnosed with dyslexia when she was in kindergarten. That means Becky has a learning disability in reading, writing and speaking. Liu recalled her parents being told by the teacher that she could not tell the difference between the letters "A" and "B". "I cried every day when I was in primary school because I was not able to spell the word ‘apple' and ‘orange' properly," Becky said. There were more than 7,800 special educational needs (SEN) students like Becky in Hong Kong in 2016, according to government figures. Their conditions range from dyslexia to severe cases such as intellectual disability, visual and hearing impairments. For them to learn effectively, the Education Bureau reckons the pupil-teacher ratio cannot be more than 4.5: 1. For the first two years of Becky's school life, she had the benefited from teaching materials and a curriculum specially designed for SEN students. But the problems started when she was transferred to a mainstream school.  She fell below average and school, in general, was a struggle "Luckily my parents always tell me to focus on the process instead of the result. That alleviates my pressures and I became less resistant to new things," Becky said. Becky believes that some teachers in mainstream schools assume that students who do not have good academic results are lazy. That, she says, makes it even tougher for SEN students to adapt to school life. "What we need," Becky said, " are patience and encouragement to build our confidence." Haven of Hope Sunnyside School serves students with the severe disability. Their intelligence quotients are sometimes equivalent to that of very young kids. …

Myanmar people march to demand peace to "stop war"

  • 2017-05-24
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Holly Chik、Wing Li、Dorothy MaEdited by: Cecilia Wong、Isabella Lo
  • 2017-05-24

Thousands of citizens protested against multiple domestic wars happening in the north where most ethnic groups live on February 5, demanding a peaceful Myanmar, said a leading demonstrator. About 7,000 people marched in downtown Yangon in February, carrying toy guns and poems, to protest the long-running civil war in northern Myanmar. The protesters marched to Maha Bandula Park and distributed leaflets printed a poem titled "I Hate the War So Much", expressing their discontentment with several civil wars happening in Myanmar. Conflicts between ethnic-minority militias and government forces have been flaring high up in northern Myanmar for feuds, competition over natural resources, and demands for more autonomy, dating back to the end of the second world war and the end of British colonial rule in 1948. Myanmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been trying to forge a nation- wide peace agreement between all ethnic groups after years of war in Myanmar's many border regions, but ethnic minorities have a deep-rooted mistrust of the central government. Many student unions and volunteers from non-governmental organizations participated in the demonstration, which was organized via Facebook, while, dating back a few years ago, Myanmar has no comprehensive internet network across its boundary. "We come here because we want peace... My parents don't allow me to go, but I am here. If there is a next one, I would like to join because of peace," said Sad Un San, a 16-year old student at East Yangon University. He said he came to the demonstration to demand peace and condemn the raging wars across Myanmar with his junior classmates who are about 15 years old. "In our country, people are fighting for no reason", said Hah Eie, a law student from Dagon University who distributed food and drinks to pro- testers for free as a …