Ill omen when all aspire to be doctors

Editorial | 14 Jul 2017

For years, media coverage of public examinations has always focused on the top scorers and high achievers from underprivileged backgrounds - sticking to the so-called formula for success.

It seems the standardized treatment guarantees readership or viewership. But does it really?

Therefore, I'm delighted to see the press, while reporting on this year's Diploma of Secondary Education results, working on a perspective that's not only confined to the elite students, but is also critical about their homogeneous choice of subjects they plan to read at universities.

Of the six straight 5** achievers, all but one of them want to be a medical doctor, which is truly curious.

Barrister-turned-super-tutor Joe Lam Chok may have stepped over the line when he mocked the top students with extreme sarcasm, deriding them as folks indulging in "masturbatory" self-satisfaction, scoring high but performing low, incapable of critical thinking, etc.

In short, the former boyfriend of Miss Hong Kong 2015 Louisa Mak Ming-sze meant to be as mean as possible to the students. It's obvious that Lam - a novice to the flamboyant circle of social celebrities - wanted to use his outrageous post to win him headlines and public attention.

It's blatantly unfair to criticize the young people for doing well in public exams, and picking what they want to study in university. Like Lam, the straight 5** students have the freedom to decide what suits them best, be that medical practitioners or super teachers.

However, I'm a bit concerned why nearly all of them are on the same wave length. Although there's the popular saying that great minds think alike, it isn't applicable in this case, since while their minds may be sharp, they're far from being great, which takes time to nurture.

Reporters should know better than anyone else the difference between now and the past.

For students receiving straight As in the past, they would have likely aspired to become doctors, lawyers, architects and accountants - the four professions traditionally linked to social success. But this year, five of the six top scorers want to be doctors, and the sixth plans to be a dentist or pharmacist.

Surprisingly, none of them wanted to be a lawyer, architect or accountant. Has something gone wrong with these once-highly regarded professions - so much so that the cream of our new generation is giving up on them?

The homogeneous choice couldn't be accidental. While it's too early to say homogeneous thinking has become so common as to be a threat to the pluralistic social fabric that makes Hong Kong what it is today, what we've just heard is nevertheless not the only sign.

Remember the University of Hong Kong's decision to scrap two traditional degree courses in astronomy and mathematics-physics due to low enrollment? That decision was based on cost-effectiveness, although questionable.

Homogeneity is the last thing to wish for in any society, and the government mustn't neglect this as it maps future policies for Hong Kong.

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