South China Morning Post
Hong Kong school leavers awaiting their results for university entrance exams are more stressed than ever, worrying about their test performance and job prospects under the double whammy of the Covid-19 pandemic and anti-government protests, a youth survey has found.The poll, released on Wednesday by non-profit organisation the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG), also found a larger proportion of students were considering heading overseas to continue their studies if they did not get into their preferred local institutions.Findings showed nearly 52 per cent of the 538 Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) candidates polled between June 27 and July 14 returned a stress reading of seven or above – on a rising scale of one to 10 – amounting to a 4 per cent increase on last year’s figures.Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China. Hong Kong protests, national security law have students looking abroadThis year’s student stress index was a record high since the DSE exams were first introduced in 2012, replacing the previous Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination and A-levels.The 52,000 or so candidates who sat the DSE exams this year, and are due to find out their results next week, encountered major disruption over their final year, including a one-month delay to sitting the tests because of the pandemic, while face-to-face classes were also suspended from early February.A number of students also said they were beset with uncertainty over months of anti-government protests which erupted last June, initially over the now-withdrawn extradition bill.Of the 9,000 protest-related arrests made over the past year, about 40 per cent involved secondary school pupils and tertiary-level students.Although more than 66 per cent of respondents said the main source of stress came from the possibility of not meeting their own expectations, some 28 per cent were worried their progress had been disrupted by class suspensions.About 24 per cent of the school leavers polled also said they were concerned about poor job prospects arising from the social unrest and the public health crisis.More than two-thirds of students were aiming to enter university programmes, but 25 per cent said they may go overseas if they were not admitted to their preferred local institution.Last year, 19 per cent of respondents said they would consider going overseas.Hsu Siu-man, a coordinator at HKFGY, described this year’s candidates as a group “chosen by our times” to face multiple challenges.“We hope candidates can be strong, especially under all the special circumstances this year. It has been a long journey but I’m sure they will withstand the pressure and soldier on,” she said.She added that although parents may also be nervous about the results, they would serve their children’s interests best by being open-minded and remaining supportive under all circumstances.Meanwhile, several universities and higher education institutions said they would also offer online or phone interviews, aside from the usual face-to-face ones, for their 2020/21 admissions, with the city fighting a third wave of Covid-19.The exam authorities said on Wednesday that DSE exams results this year would be released on July 22 as scheduled, with schools given flexibility over whether to ask them to collect their results on campus, or to notify them online if the pandemic worsened.Rebel City: Hong Kong’s Year of Water and Fire is a new book of essays that chronicles the political confrontation that has gripped the city since June 2019. Edited by the South China Morning Post's Zuraidah Ibrahim and Jeffie Lam, the book draws on work from the Post's newsrooms across Hong Kong, Beijing, Washington and Singapore, with unmatched insights into all sides of the conflict. Buy directly from SCMP today and get a 15% discount (regular price HKD$198). It is available at major bookshops worldwide or online through Amazon, Kobo, Google Books, and eBooks.com.More from South China Morning Post: * Applications to universities outside Hong Kong soar amid concerns over protests, looming national security law * Hong Kong’s university entrance exams go ahead amid pandemic, but more than 300 candidates miss outThis article Hong Kong protests and coronavirus pandemic drive record stress levels for school leavers awaiting Diploma of Secondary Education results first appeared on South China Morning PostFor the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2020.