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