The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in prolonged school suspension in Hong Kong. The first batch of students will be returning to school this Wednesday (May 27). Save the Children Hong Kong’s recent survey reveals that nearly half of the students have had challenges understanding class content and homework during home learning, and nearly one quarter of the students surveyed have “a lot” of past-due assignments and homework that will make it difficult for them to catch up when school resumes. Around half indicated tutoring or delayed exams as types of support they would need after school resumes.

Save the Children Hong Kong conducted an online survey in May 2020 and collected responses from 274 students, with over 80% of the respondents in secondary school. The survey aims to better understand the difficulties students have encountered in learning and their overall well-being during this challenging period.

According to the survey, over 66% of the responding students find it difficult to stay focused during home learning, and more than a third of the students said they were only learning a little bit or not at all during the school suspension. These findings clearly reflect the challenges and anxiety students have faced during online learning.

When asked how teachers and schools could enhance home-based learning, 66% of the students said they should “create a fun and more interactive learning environment”. Meanwhile nearly 70% of the senior secondary students requested that teachers “upload lecture recordings for students to review anytime”.

The online survey also covers the physical and psychological impact that anti-coronavirus measures had on students. Nearly half of students feel more worried than they did before coronavirus. A third of the students indicated that their situation at home is “tense/fearful”, with many worried about the pandemic and some having difficulties with family relationships. Students also said they were sad during the school suspension because there were “fewer chances to see and spend time with friends” (60%), “the long period at home weakened their self-discipline” (52%) and they “miss school life” (48%).

Christy, a Secondary Four student, said that “I feel learning at home is definitely more stressful than at school. We have more homework to do now that we are learning at home, and the teaching materials are inadequate to support online learning”. Michael, a Secondary Five student, said when attending online classes, he tends to write fewer notes, and that is affecting his studies in a negative way.

“Based on the survey as well as many conversations we have had with community members over the last few months, we know the switch to online learning has not been easy for many students. It’s particularly difficult for those from low-income families and with special education needs,” said Carol Szeto, CEO of Save the Children Hong Kong. “We need to work closely with schools and the government to better understand the challenges that students from different backgrounds are facing, and target our support so students are able to catch up on their learning, and their emotional needs are met.”

Save the Children Hong Kong has been supporting parent-child communication and relationships, and helping ensure the physical and mental health needs of children are being addressed. All stakeholders must come together to support children and families during this exceptional time.

For detailed survey results summary, please visit here.