The teacher who pushed the boundaries of Hong Kong education

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Edward Tse Kam-man is not your ordinary teacher. Having retired late last year, he looks back at his time as a visual arts instructor at Kwun Tong Maryknoll College with fondness.

Tse, 61, was ahead of his time when he started teaching at the boys’ school 34 years ago. Instead of sticking to the strict local school culture, Tse did away with seating plans and bought a fridge, water dispenser and coffee pot for his students. He also brought along a CD player because he felt music should be played in art classes.

Students were allowed to eat and drink when they wanted, and even swear. Tse stocked the art supplies room with all sorts of things, including baby oil, which came in handy when a student jammed his finger into a hole in a stool and couldn’t get it out.

The teacher got rid of homework entirely for Form One to Three pupils because “when local school students take work home, the parents do the homework,” he said.

“They just want a good grade, so they end up doing the drawing, the sticking, the cutting. It sends the wrong message to the students – that their work is not good enough.”

Tse does not believe in grading art work either, even for school, because he believes that art is not about what is right or wrong, but about freedom of expression. He calls the current art education system anti-education as it favours certain types of students, such as those good at repetition.

“[Grading] is very discouraging. The students all just sat together and had a good time making art, then they took the work home and the parents asked why they only got a C. The parents even asked what grades other students got. No one was happy. The parents wanted to know why the child wasn’t working harder, why they drew this and that … This shouldn’t be happening at all.”

So how exactly did Tse come up with such a unique classroom concept?

“I wanted students to trust me, not be afraid to show their true selves. They were constantly testing the teacher to see if they’d get in trouble. They wanted to know which side I was on – the school’s or theirs. My role is not to be a teacher. I am giving students a safe environment in which to express themselves, where they can break boundaries and build confidence.”

With his novel ways, Tse worried some fellow teachers. He received warning after warning, both verbal and written, from the school over his deliberately relaxed approach, but he always just came short of being fired. This is because his methods produced results.

“There are students who don’t normally behave and barely even come to school, but after spending some time in my class, their behaviour improves. There are also students who get bad grades, but still get accepted into university to study art.”

Parents did not complain about Tse’s teaching methods either because he says “they didn’t necessarily care about art. It’s considered a sidebar subject.”

That in itself is a problem for Tse, who, despite retiring, thinks something should be done about Hong Kong’s secondary education system. He says many universities in Hong Kong which take design or art students “don’t look at Diploma of Secondary Education results, but the education sector keeps pushing it anyway”.

“There’s something wrong with this examination method. Other than it not helping students get into university, it’s suffocating.

“The youth should take charge of their own creativity. Students today go around in circles, they copy each other. They’re not aware that they’ve fallen into a trap of wasting time and they don’t contribute to society. Who will break this cycle?”

Tse’s work pushing the boundaries of what is widely considered good education has earned him a place on the shortlist of the South China Morning Post’s Spirit of Hong Kong Awards. He was nominated by the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union in the Compassion Ambassador category.

Google, Facebook Partner on Undersea Cable From Los Angeles to Hong Kong

Google, Facebook Partner on Undersea Cable From Los Angeles to Hong Kong


  • The Pacific Light Cable Network will stretch 12,800 kilometers
  • PLCN is expected to handle some 120 terabytes of data per second
  • Most Pacific subsea cables stretch from the US to Japan

Google and Facebook on Wednesday announced plans to work with a China Soft Power Holdings subsidiary to connect Los Angeles and Hong Kong with a high-capacity Internet cable.

The Pacific Light Cable Network will stretch 12,800 kilometers (8,000 miles), crossing beneath the Pacific Ocean in a first-of-its-kind direct connection between the two locations, according to companies involved with the project.

PLCN is expected to handle some 120 terabytes of data per second, enough capacity to enable 80 million high-definition video conference calls simultaneously between Los Angeles and Hong Kong, said Google network infrastructure director Brian Quigley.

Google and Facebook are working with Pacific Light Data Communication Company and with undersea communications technology firm TE SubCom on the cable, which was scheduled to be ready in mid 2018, according to a joint release.

“PLCN will be among the lowest-latency fiber optic routes between Hong Kong and the US and the first to connect directly using ultra-high-capacity transmission,” PLDC chairman Wei Junkang said.

“It is certainly gratifying that global technology companies like Google and Facebook have become co-investors in PLCN.”

Most Pacific subsea cables stretch from the US to Japan, according to Facebook vice president of network engineering Najam Ahmad.

“As the number of people using Facebook apps and services continues to grow in the region, PLCN will help further connect Asia and our data centers in the US,” Ahmad said.

“This new direct route will give us more diversity and resiliency in the Pacific.”

Cables to clouds
Lifestyles increasingly centered on access to cloud-based online services as well as to video, pictures and other content on the internet have increased the need for infrastructure capable of quickly and efficiently moving digital data.

PLCN will be the sixth submarine cable in which Google has an ownership stake, according to Quigley. The US internet giant claimed to have the “largest network backbone of any public cloud provider.”

Microsoft and Facebook early this year teamed together to lay a high-speed Internet cable across the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

The subsea “MAREA” cable was expected to be completed by late 2017, with the aim of meeting growing demand by the tech companies’ customers for fast, reliable data connections.

MAREA was expected to have a capacity of some 160 terabytes per second of data, according to the companies.

The 6,600 kilometer cable system will also be the first connecting the United States and southern Europe, running from Northern Virginia to Bilbao, Spain, Microsoft and Facebook said.

Tags: Google, Facebook, Pacific Light Cable Network, PLCN, Internet, Cloud


Get Off Our Lawn, Chinese Army Warns Hong Kong’s Pokemon Go Players

Get Off Our Lawn, Chinese Army Warns Hong Kong's Pokemon Go Players

The Chinese army garrisoned in Hong Kong has warned people searching for Pikachu and other virtual monsters to stay off their premises, as Pokemon Go mania sweeps the smartphone-obsessed city.

The gaming app landed Monday in Hong Kong, and saw residents more glued to their phones than ever, searching for the cyber creatures in locations ranging from shopping malls to the government headquarters.

The app uses satellite locations, graphics and camera capabilities to overlay cartoon monsters on real-world settings, challenging players to capture and train the creatures for battles.

(Also see:  Pokemon Go No Longer Working in Parts of India, Reddit Users Complain)

But the city’s enthusiasm to “catch ’em all” has prompted warnings from government departments and even the Chinese People’s Liberation Army to stay off their property.


A PLA spokesman told AFP the city’s barracks were closed zones.

(Also see: How to Play Pokemon Go in India? Here’s Everything You Need to Know)

“Military barracks are restricted areas under Hong Kong law. Without the authorisation of the commanding officer, no one is allowed to enter the restricted areas,” he said.

Police also warned residents to be careful when playing the game.

“When you are capturing monsters, stay alert to your surroundings,” a police video posted on Facebook said.

(Also see:  This Pokemon Go Map Will Show You Every Pokemon Location)

“Police report rooms are for people in need of police services, players are not allowed to play the game there, be a smart player!” the video added.

The app has now been launched in more than 40 countries including the US, Japan and much of Europe. Japanese video game company Nintendo started the mythical creature franchise 20 years ago.

(Also see: Pokemon Go iOS: How to Download Pokemon Go for iPhone, iPad)

However, widespread warnings have been given by authorities around the world after reports of players being injured or becoming the victims of crime.

Some Pokemon Go players were robbed after being lured to isolated locations in the hopes of catching the virtual creatures, according to US reports. Other distracted players have been blamed for causing traffic accidents.

(Also see: How to Download Pokemon Go APK, Install, and Play on Android)

In Indonesia, a French player was stopped and questioned for several hours after the app led him into a military base.

Two youngsters were so preoccupied with catching the cartoon monsters that they wandered across the US-Canada border.

Tags: Android, Apple, Apps, Gaming, Internet, Nintendo, Pokemon, Pokemon Go



Re-Enter the Dragon: Hong Kong Welcomes New Wave of Films

A still from 2015’s 10 Years, a movie made in Hong Kong.


  • ‘Everyone asks if it could be released in China?,’ said a director
  • ‘I need some creative control and freedom,’ he added
  • ‘We have to be concerned with the few freedoms we have,’ said another
Shoot the film you’ve always wanted on a shoestring budget or sell out and make a blockbuster? It is a dilemma Hong Kong directors frequently face as mainland China’s lucrative movie industry beckons.

Now, with concerns growing about Beijing’s increasing influence on Hong Kong, some filmmakers are defying commercial and political pressures to produce home-grown movies with a local voice, and inject new life into the city’s cinema scene.

Hong Kong once pumped out at least 200 films a year, from Bruce Lee’s 1973 Enter the Dragon to Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love in 2000, via countless cop and gangster thrillers.

But in the past decade the local industry has slumped and just dozens of films are now produced in Hong Kong annually.

One major factor is the booming Chinese movie sector, offering both experienced directors and recent graduates more money and opportunities.

Yet for some the pendulum now seems to be swinging back, as the desire for freedom of expression outweighs mainland mega-bucks.

“With new films, everyone asks: ‘Could it be released in China? Can you cooperate with the Chinese side?’ That’s how (investors) earn back their money,” said Hong Kong director Derek Chiu, 54, who has a string of local feature films under his belt and has worked on the mainland.

He said that he has struggled to find backers for his forthcoming drama Chung Ying Street, which focuses on riots against British colonial rule before leaping to the present-day protest movement.

Mr Chiu said Hong Kong and mainland bodies have rejected his funding applications. A private backer has also pulled out over concerns his investment could impact his business interests in China, he says.

“Maybe if I do Chung Ying Street I cannot work in China. But I will not give up this one,” Mr Chiu told AFP.

“I need some creative control and freedom, and China cannot provide that,” he added.

– Crowdfunding cash –

Some Hong Kong directors have turned to crowdfunding to raise cash but maintain their independence.

Celebrated cinematographer Christopher Doyle, a long-term Hong Kong resident best-known for his work with director Wong Kar-wai, used the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform for his most recent politically sensitive project, raising more than $100,000.

Hong Kong Trilogy: Preschooled, Preoccupied, Preposterous, released last year, is based on interviews with three generations of Hongkongers. One section is dedicated to mass pro-democracy protests that brought parts of the city to a standstill in 2014.

“You can only say certain things in China, so you’re making period dramas and you’re making action films, as opposed to more socially relevant films,” Mr Doyle tells AFP.

“Here, we have to do the opposite. We have to go smaller budget, we have to be more concerned with the very few freedoms we still have left,” he said.

Mr Doyle said the shift from securing mainland funding to prioritising freedom of expression has happened “very quickly”, and is the biggest recent shift in Hong Kong cinema.

The critical and commercial success of 2015’s locally made 10 Years, a series of shorts painting a grim picture of life in Hong Kong in 2025, is testament to the mood change.

“I think because of the social and political situation in Hong Kong, directors are more concerned with local topics,” said Andrew Choi, one of the film’s co-producers.

– Keeping it real –

But despite the new energy in the Hong Kong industry, some say the city’s cinematic glory will be hard to recapture in the face of an ascendant China and growing global competition.

“When big names were discovered in the 1980s, the market and the world were less crowded,” sayid Nansun Shi, a veteran Hong Kong producer who oversaw the 2002 hit thriller Infernal Affairs and has served on the jury of the Cannes film festival.

She added that many filmmakers will still be drawn to mainland or Chinese co-funded productions for the bigger budgets and greater exposure.

“I think it’s just a natural progression that some more experienced directors have gone to China to work,” she said.

Still, next-generation filmmakers said that keeping a local focus not only symbolises freedom – it is also simply a better way to engage their audience.

“I’d rather work with limited resources on something I know about,” said recent graduate Crosby Yip, 24, between takes on the set of his privately-funded debut rom-com Diary of First Love.

“If I make films about the place I grew up in, I think the feeling will be more solid and realistic,” he added – a sentiment echoed by current film students who spoke with AFP.

“This is why I insist on working with Hong Kong themes,” added Crosby Yip.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)