I wanted to take their photo but on second thought, I didn’t. They
were two boys of around twelve. It was only 8 early Sunday morning. They were
diligently studying the railroad map on board the West Rail Line leaving the
Hung Hom Station for Tuen Mun. I was pleasantly amused and so though I would be
getting off at the next station, I tried to start a conversation with them.
They were shy and replied rather reluctantly. I knew they were
Secondary 1 classmates co-operating on a project to visit various landmarks
along the rail line. They had been given 4 hours to finish the task of taking a
photo at each location. And so their discussion was about how best to finish
the trail in the shortest possible time. They had several information sheets to
That was a really engaging assignment with the boys truly enjoying
the process. The teacher(s) must have put in a lot of efforts in preparing the
task. These students were applying knowledge in real life situation and were practising
team spirit and communications skills.
But then as a school administrator, I started to sense risk there.
These boys were not accompanied and they were charting unfamiliar territories.
All the “what ifs” came to my mind and sent chills down my spine. For fear of
accidents and the subsequent insurance claims etc., school heads find their
hands tied. Primary school pupils are not allowed to run in recess. There are
prefects and monitors yelling at the top of their voice “Don’t run”! We all
know after sitting in the classrooms for two hours, what can be more relaxing
than a good run in open space! Teachers are afraid of children bumping into
each other in the corridors and so the rule is children are to walk. They only
run during Physical Education lessons which are once and at most twice a week
or on Sports Day and Picnic Day which come once in a year!
And this situation is not unique in Hong Kong. I read in newspapers
that some schools in England are not holding Sports Day anymore because they
cannot afford the insurance!