• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 10:32am

DSS holds key to English study places

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 February, 2013, 4:04am

It has been reported in your newspaper recently that there is a shortage, in the thousands, of primary and secondary school places for the children of expatriate families in Hong Kong.

While these expatriate families are requesting the government provides more international school places for their children (who do not speak Chinese and therefore cannot attend local schools), many local schools actually have high potential to meet the demand.

Hong Kong has some very high-quality schools that are teaching both the local and international curriculums which are suitable for expatriate communities. For instance, some Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) schools have been admitting non-Chinese-speaking students. These schools provide an option to these children who may otherwise have to look for international school places.

More and more DSS schools are interested in offering an international/non-local curriculum. These curriculums include the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme and the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and General Certificate of Education - Advanced Level (GCE-A Level) programme from UK.

These schools also provide a learning environment that is appropriate to a multicultural and multilingual community.

DSS schools, in general, have more resources and greater flexibility in designing and setting an English-learning environment for students. These schools offer not just another alternative for expatriate families, but also a genuinely multicultural and English-rich environment for Hongkongers.

For Hong Kong to be successful as a multicultural and international city, it should be able to attract business and talent from all around the world. This can only happen when the educational opportunities of the children of these families are taken care of.

If the government can provide further support in the development of DSS schools and encourage them to provide more opportunities for a high-quality English-learning environment for both local and non-local students, more of these talented people and their families will come.

In fact, the most important point is that the education system should change and should not be out of touch with the demand.

We should discourage the mentality that there is a segregation of local and non-local students, with local students going to local schools only and international schools being solely for non-local students.

Dion Chen, deputy principal, YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Let's all be really careful here about who we are talking about and who we are trying to help. Unfortunately we need to do some pigeon-holing here to meet the real needs of Hong Kong.
Firstly we need to define expatriate. From my way of thinking an expatriate is someone from a foregin country who has moved to Hong Kong for economic reasons. To get a better job for example and earn more money.
I do not consider myself to be an expatriate. I come from a Western country but I am an immigrant. Unlike expatriates I have made this my home and intend to stay whether times are good or bad. I immigrated here because it is where my wife is from and where her family are.
Children of expatriates in all likelihood will not stay in Hong Kong. They require an education that fits their language needs while they are here.
Another group of students comes from families with a long history in Hong Kong but who are from a mixed linguistic background.
Instead of arguing for more English schools, the HK Gov't should firstly try to put a number on the different types of students (we know from recent reports that they have so far failed in this).
Children of immigrants or others of mixed linguistic backgrounds should be made to learn the local language at a young age, i.e. Chinese should be compulsory from P1 onwards earlier is better.
We are then left to consider the matter of children of expatriates. I firmly beleive that their children's education and the costs involved should not be borne by HK taxpayers but should be factored into any decisions on whether or not to move to HK. The firms who employ them could pay an allowance for education.
The final, as yet unmentioned, group are those local parents who simply desire an English education for their children. They seem to be a large group. I know that parents from all economic backgrounds in HK seem to see being educated in English as a passport to success. But as a teacher I have seen too many otherwise successful students fall to pieces when forced to take exams in English. Previoulsy I worked in a Band 3 EMI school. Parents were happy their children were there, but I say take exams in English because the reality was that if the students were not taught in Chinese then they were unalbe to learn effectively. And of course if they are learning in Chinese for say a Sceince subject but are expected to give answers in English in exams then you can guess the outcome. Lots of tears and a fear bordering on hatred for education and English. I don't have the answer for this group. We need more open and honest dialogue in society about how our students should be educated.

I agree that the need for desegregation is clear and present.
But I think it isn’t exactly proper to say something like:
“Hong Kong has some very high-quality schools
that are teaching both the local and international curriculums
which are suitable for expatriate communities.”
What are the differences between local and “international” curricula?
How international (popular) is IB in EU, Africa, the Americas, Asia and Pacific?
How often do we have children of expatriate attending IB before or after their parents’ tour in HK, especially those who can’t afford HK’s private international school?
What percentage of expatriates’ children stay in HK to prepare for matriculation exams?
Why don’t we promote HKDSE as an international standard; it is internationally recognised as equivalent, if not better than GCSE / GCEA?
HK and Switzerland (IB origin) have similar population size
HK should improve all local schools, not just DSS and the “high-quality” ones.
Being expatriates isn’t a qualification for HK’s “very high-quality schools”.
The value of expatriates must be properly appraised against their costs on HK’s resources
and the primary objective of every rational society to develop local talents.


SCMP.com Account