Reverse history question decision, urge students

Student groups, in alliance with some like-minded associations, have called on authorities to reinstate a controversial history exam question, warning that the move to pull the question will undermine the integrity of the examination and is unfair to candidates.

The groups – including scholars and teachers groups – also issued a joint statement on this after the city’s exams body decided to invalidate the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) question on Friday.

Isaac Cheng, spokesperson for the Secondary Students’ Action Platform said there is growing political pressure on the education sector, and that this could get worse when national security legislation is introduced.

“We will lose any space for us to discuss, or lose all the space for us to learn [about], the sensitive history, or even the independent thought will be affected,” Cheng said.

The platform is planning on launching a judicial review against the examination authority’s decision to pull the question next week.

Cheng was joined by a secondary student who took the history DSE exam, who said the decision to invalidate the question was “an insult to the candidates”.

“As a candidate, we have the ability to analyse the question in a great extent, because for the past three years we have been training ourselves [on] independent thought or our ability to digest the whole question in a short period of time,” said the student, who gave his name as Thomas.

He also dismissed the Education Bureau’s view that because the source materials given at the exam were one-sided, it would therefore lead to one-sided answers. Thomas said candidates are required to answer after considering many sides and not just the sources provided.

“So the answers eventually won’t be one-sided anyway, so it’s an insult to the candidates.”

The comments come after Education Secretary Kevin Yeung defended the decision to pull the university entrance examination question on whether Japan did more good than harm to China between 1900 and 1945.

He said it wouldn’t be fair to grade the question, and that it was not just a matter of “school education – it’s also about education in the whole community”.

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