2017 DSE English Writing Question 7 (Sample)

Learning English through Social Issues

You are working on a project called “Hong Kong’s NEETS”. NEETS are young people who are not in education, employment or training. Many of these young people spend their time at home playing video games or surfing the internet.

Write a report to explain why the number of NEETS in Hong Kong is rising and suggest what can be done to help these youths. Give reasons to support your suggestions.

Hong Kong’s NEETs

In an affluent society like Hong Kong, there exist a certain number of hidden youths who neither work nor study but stay at home playing video games or surfing the internet. They are called NEETs. A recent survey shows that the number of NEETs is on the increase. The figure is quite alarming. In this report, I will explore the reasons behind the phenomenon and suggest some solutions to the problem.

At one extreme, many NEETs come from well-off family where they are spoiled and pampered by helicopter parents who help their children deal with every aspect of daily life such as spoon-feeding and shoelace-tying, and do not allow their children to experience setbacks in daily life such as conflicts among schoolmates and shortage of resources. They live in an overprotected and well-provided environment where problems and difficulties are eliminated, not to mention the fact that they do not have to worry about or struggle for survival. As a result, they fail to develop self-care ability and problem-solving skill and become overly dependent on their parents. As they grow up, they are unable to face pressure from school and hardship from work. Therefore, they become socially withdrawn and would rather stay at home and live in the virtual world where they can stay within their comfort zone, forget life demands and escape from the harsh reality of the real world. 

At the other extreme, many NEETs come from poor family where children are neglected by their parents who have difficulty in making a living and can barely make ends meet. The children do not have enough resources for their growth. For example, when they encounter difficulties in their studies, they cannot afford to hire a tutor to help them and thus are unable to catch up with school demands. Gradually, they become failure under the education system and lose hope in the future prospect. Even though they might be willing to work, the salary is too low to entice them to stay on the job. Thinking that it is not worth the effort, they would rather stay at home and live off their parents. 

To address the issue, the government should provide schools with more financial assistance to employ more social workers and counselors who can help NEETs come out of the shell by listening to their problems and walking with them, by introducing them to support groups where they can find peers with similar problems and support each other or by introducing them to interest groups where they can socialize with peers having similar interests so that they will not feel alone.  

The government can cooperate with the commercial sector by providing subsidies to create more job opportunities such as part-time jobs as a stepping stone for NEETs to get a sense of the demand and requirement of a job and get a taste of whether they can work under stress. Starting with a small step by taking a part-time job, they may feel easier to get on with work and engage with the society. When they build up on-the-job experience, they may feel motivated to do a full-time job. 

The government can also provide subsidies or establish funds to support NEETs who would like to further their studies but lack the necessary resources. When better equipped through continuing education, they are more likely to find a better job and have more incentive to work.

With the above measures, I hope that NEETs feel encouraged and empowered to re-enter the society and live a meaningful life. 

2019 DSE English Writing Question 6 (Sample)

Learning English through Drama

You are a reporter for the entertainment section of the Young Post. You have been asked to review a new film called Cinderella which is based on the comic series Princesses of Power.

  • Write a review of the film
  • Include a brief description of the plot, how the characters are portrayed in this new version of Cinderella and why the director wanted to make this film
  • Give your review a title

Super Cinderella

The new animated film Cinderella, released in 2019, is adapted from the all-time classic fairy tale. It tells a modern tale of Cinderella, an ordinary girl in her twenties, who tries to save lives at the critical moment of the city where she lives in. Born with superpower, the young Cinderella is reminded by her deceased mother not to use her power until when the right time comes because her superpower can only be used once and will disappear at midnight. 

Living with her stepmother and two stepsisters who treat her cruelly, the young Cinderella endures the hardship and refuses to use her magical power to save herself. As Cinderella is growing up, a dark superpower is looming large on the horizon and threatening the citizens of the city. Seeing that the city is full of violence, injustice and riot, the grown-up Cinderella realizes that it is the right time to use her power to save her fellow citizens. Cinderella stops all sorts of crimes committed by the dark armies and destroys all the black magic played by the dark lord. 

The royal family member Prince Henry finally challenges the dark lord to a fight. When the dark lord comes very close to stabbing Prince Henry, Cinderella comes to the rescue, stabs the dark lord and saves Prince Henry.  At this time, the clock strikes midnight and Cinderella loses her power instantly. Cinderella runs away leaving her shoe behind. The following day Prince Henry searches everywhere in the city who can fit in the shoe. Cinderella tries the shoe on and reveals that she is the one who saves him. Then Prince Henry asks Cinderella to marry him and they live happily ever after in the city. 

It is thrilling to see that the new Cinderella, directed by the female director Sara Kwok, turns the original fairy tale upside down by portraying Cinderella as a superwoman. “By modern adaptation of the classic and re-imagination of the female protagonist, I would like to give a feminist touch to the story that modern women, represented by Cinderella, is just as strong and able as men instead of being stereotyped as weak victims waiting to be saved. I would like to give such an impression to the little girls who come to the cinema to watch this film.” Sara explained her motive of making the film.

Apparently, it might seem that the ending does not surprise us when it follows the same way as the original one that marriage is the final happiness of a woman. However, as the story suggests, the happy ending somehow demonstrates that modern women can seek her own happiness, be it marriage or not, but here in the form of marriage, by her own power. 

Cinderella is a great choice if you look out for something unconventional that stimulates your children into thinking about gender role and female empowerment. However, despite its creativity, it might not be as lovable as the all-time favourite classic that both boys and girls would find.