Hong Kong schools

Prove Mandarin would work better to teach Chinese language, Hong Kong government told

Audit Commission accuses government of not doing enough to determine whether Putonghua teaching worked in trial scheme

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 April, 2017, 8:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 April, 2017, 5:41pm

Hong Kong’s Audit Commission has urged the Education Bureau to establish the effectiveness of using Putonghua to teach Chinese language before making it mandatory for all primary and secondary schools in the city.

According to the latest report by the commission on the bureau’s HK$8 billion Language Fund, the bureau spent HK$225 million in 2007 to fund 160 schools to participate in a trial scheme using Putonghua to teach Chinese.

Fewer secondary schools using Putonghua to teach Chinese classes in Hong Kong

But the commission found that only four schools participating in the scheme were selected for a 2012 study on its effectiveness.

In the end, the study could not provide clear conclusions on whether it would be more effective teaching the subject in Putonghua than in Cantonese, and recommended the government provide more resources and support to help promote the scheme.

Further research that provides more conclusive findings is needed
Audit Commission

“It has been more than 16 years since the government adopted the long-term vision of using [Putonghua to teach Chinese] for all schools,” the commission said in the report. “Further research that provides more conclusive findings is needed.”

The bureau admitted that the scale and method of the study were limited and said the manager of the fund would improve the design of future assessment studies to include more schools.

It added that it would continue communicating with different schools and institutions to increase teachers’ confidence and ability to use Putonghua to teach Chinese.

The bureau also pledged to continue to collect data from schools participating in the trial scheme.

The commission reviewed 20 out of 475 approved projects for the fund and found some schools had not been submitting progress reports on time, with four reports being submitted over a month after they were due. One of the four was submitted seven months after the deadline.

Cantonese or Putonghua in schools? Hongkongers fear culture and identity ‘waning’

The auditors also found 20 cases where subsidies – ranging from HK$6,000 to HK$103,372 – were not used up, but the schools involved had failed to refund the subsidies in five cases and others had taken up to half a year to do so.

The commission urged the bureau to strengthen the monitoring of participating schools to ensure that the subsidies were used properly.