More than half answered Japan did more harm to controversial history exam question

Local | 25 May 2020 7:11 pm

Hong Kong's exams body has revealed that almost 60 percent of candidates who just sat this year's Diploma of Secondary Education history paper answered that Japan did more harm than good to China during the period between 1900 and 1945.

Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority's Secretary General So Kwok-sang said this during a briefing with lawmakers over the decision to scrap the controversial DSE question, RTHK reports.

But So said the fact that 38 percent of candidates argued that Japan did more good than harm reflected that the question wasn't properly designed, and said "there is inappropriate leading elements in the question, which is not fair to candidates".

Also at the meeting was Education Secretary Kevin Yeung Yun-hung who in his opening remarks said Japan's invasion of China "should indeed not be discussed from the perspective of comparing benefit and harm" as it caused a great loss of lives of Chinese people.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting Yeung defended his argument that the question was "too difficult" for candidates, saying that his colleagues said the two pieces of source material that came with the question were "very complicated in nature".

"If we asked the students, secondary six students, to analyze these two pieces of information within a short period of time – and normally these two pieces of information will not be taught in a normal lesson of the school – then it will be very difficult for them top give a meaningful analysis."

But education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen disputed the exam board official's contention.

"Firstly, I think it reveals very clearly that the majority are not being misled. So some 57 percent of these candidates answered the bad impacts are much larger than the good ones," he said.

"So, when they told us that the question was misleading, obviously the majority of the students were not misled, so they answered with what they know about the Japanese invasion in China," said Ip.

The comments come amid a row over a controversial DSE history exam question after the Education Bureau ordered the exams body to scrap the question saying it was biased and hurtful to the Chinese people.

The HKEAA confirmed on Friday evening that it was pulling the question, and that candidates would instead be assessed on the basis of their answers to other questions.

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