Pakistani boys make headway in school with Chinese skills

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 July, 2013, 5:28am

Among local Pakistani families, two Cantonese-fluent brothers are a rare case of achievement: both of them managed to enrol in mainstream schools - and to cope with their lessons.

The two boys speak Cantonese effortlessly, and can read and write Chinese, not because of government support but because of unconditional family support and the boys' own hard work, says their mother, Nina, whose full name she asked be withheld for confidentiality reasons.

"It was tough," said elder son Amjid, 15, of the transition to a Chinese mainstream school when he was in Primary Three. "I didn't speak any Chinese. I didn't understand anything [people] were saying in class." Amjid did not even know how to select extracurricular activities to take part in, which left him mortified.

Brother Asid, 14, found the transition tough as well. "All my classmates would ignore me, saying I'm Pakistani."

Both boys had the help of multiple tutors for Chinese, Chinese history and maths - which was taught in Chinese during their primary school years. Asid recalled studying till past 10pm every day after school.

Their sister, Fatma, has special learning needs and has just started Primary One.

The family of five spend more than HK$3,000 of their roughly HK$21,000 monthly income on the tutors. Amjid goes to a direct subsidy school, where his family has to pay school fees.

Nina, a second-generation Hongkonger, said it was very tough on the family financially. "But to survive in Hong Kong, my children must learn Chinese."