PRESS RELEASE & STATEMENT

2021/02/09

Save the Children Survey: Online Learning Leads to Increased Risk of Inequality in Education Experience

While online learning has become the norm over the past year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, school children in Hong Kong may be at risk of facing increased inequality in their education experience. The latest survey conducted by Save the Children Hong Kong shows divergent opinions from teachers on the quality of the learning experience and learning outcomes for students. Teachers also expressed very different preferred approaches to grading students for the 2019-20 school year, which raises concerns over potential inequities in the grading system across schools in a year with an ever-shifting learning environment.

Save the Children Hong Kong conducted an online survey between September and December 2020 and collected responses from 139 local primary and secondary school teachers. The survey aimed to understand the perception of teachers towards online learning and students’ mental wellbeing, and identify ways to address the learning gaps due to school closures.

According to the survey, most of the responding teachers (68%) said they were unprepared for the shift to online learning with little or no experience teaching virtual classes when the school suspensions began, and teaching methods have still not been perfected. More than a third (37%) reported that when teaching online, they were less able to identify and support the diverse learning needs of students and that students have had more difficulty focusing in virtual lessons (44%).

When asked about the support for students’ mental wellbeing, many teachers in our survey said their schools recognised these issues as pressing concerns, but almost half cited insufficient number of mental health professionals in the community and inadequate resources and training for school staff as barriers to providing the necessary support.

“The sudden transition from in-classroom to online learning has disrupted education and posed many challenges for students, parents, teachers and administrators,” said Carol Szeto, CEO of Save the Children Hong Kong. “We need to place children’s educational needs as a top priority. We encourage the government to take all possible measures to ensure schools are the last to close and first to reopen. In addition, sufficient support and resources must reside within and outside of the school structures, to maintain positive mental wellbeing for children during these challenging times.”

Save the Children Hong Kong has been supporting parent-child communication and relationships, and helping to ensure that the physical and mental health needs of children are being addressed. Our mental wellbeing projects span a wide variety of interventions customising for the needs of children and youth, parents, teachers and professionals. Activities for children and youth range from art and therapeutic play therapies, mental wellbeing workshops and picture bookworkshops, to more advanced interventions such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy-Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (CBT-IAPT) and case management, providing an all-rounded and comprehensive support. Moreover, educational workshops for parents, teachers and social workers are provided to strengthen the capacity of the support system, and public exhibitions and school talks are conducted to further enhance public awareness towards mental health of children and youth.

To learn more about Save the children Hong Kong’s Mental Wellbeing Programmes and Heart-to-heart Parent-child Programme.

For detailed survey results summary, please visit here: Survey of School Teachers’ Views on Online Learning and Student Mental Wellbeing amid COVID-19 Related School Adaptations (只提供英文版) 

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