The Essence of Career and Life Planning

Caroline Sin (Vice-chairperson)
The Hong Kong Association of Careers Masters and Guidance Masters

A $500,000 recurrent education grant for career and life planning (CLP) has been introduced to local secondary schools for almost two years. Disappointingly, the primary use of it among schools territory-wide has been largely deviant from the blueprint published by the EDB.

For one thing, a prominent gap between the amount of additional resources given to a school and the actual amount of additional manpower allocated to the school’s CLP work has been observed. Another case in point is the use of the grant solely to buy one-fits-all services, which can hardly cater the diversified needs of individual students.

What is noteworthy of CLP is that it respects the uniqueness of every individual. CLP, together with each school’s carefully designed educational programme, can address students’ individual needs in pursuit of successful school experiences and a purposeful direction. However, diversity, uniqueness and customization have seemed to be long-forgotten virtues in our human-centred work.

Sadly, to many school administrators, CLP is always the last task on their list. Nowadays in Hong Kong, it is not surprising to see that most schools are fanatically delving into policies to boost their students’ academic performance, yet embarrassingly remedying their incapability in handling everyday adversities and heading towards a goal. Has something in our students’ ‘value-added’ processes been over-played? Or have some ‘values’ been missing? No doubt, there is not enough room for career guidance in our society.

Many people may have placed a wrong label on CLP, further confining its scope of application and development. ‘Low achievers’ may be perceived as its only major recipients, as they are ‘most urgently’ in need of guidance for job selection. Judging from the shocking number of suicide cases among tertiary students in the last few months, however, we believe this misinformed notion can hardly stand. CLP should be for everyone, be they academically strong or weak. Obviously, a large part of the public still have little ideas about CLP.

While there has been wide coverage about measures to prevent our kids from self-harming behaviour, we believe that the developmental and proactive nature of CLP education can be more powerful in strengthening them to strive and fight the complexities and anxieties in our present society. We see in our future generations a strong need to handle transition experiences of various types, as they are facing unprecedented changes and unknowns.

The crux of successful CLP lies in the close relationships between students and teachers. Yet, no bonds of any two individuals can be formed without sufficient time and space. There can be varied ways to empower teachers to implement CLP in secondary classrooms, but what we deem most desirable is the relief of our teaching and administrative workload so that more room for building trust-bearing teacher-student relationships can be allowed. Let’s get our fingers crossed that the primary use of the CLP grant can be kept as it was intended, and all teachers can be empowered to paint the kaleidoscope of colours in our future generations.

The article was posted in the Young Post, SCMP on 22 April 2016.

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