There are no quick-fix solutions to Hong Kong's medium-of-instruction problems - only compromises, the author of a seven-year tracking study of students taught under the mother-tongue policy has said. Tsang Wing-kwong, associate director of Chinese University's Institute of Educational Research, said: 'There is no satisfactory solution to the medium-of-instruction policy in Hong Kong because we are in a post-colonial situation here. 'If you look around the world all post-colonial countries, such as Singapore, South Africa and India, are facing a very complicated medium-of-instruction policy. There are no quick solutions to the problem - there can only be compromises. 'If you take Singapore as an example, it is just the opposite to Hong Kong. It has an anti-mother-tongue policy. Most students are of either Chinese origin or Malaysian origin or Indian origin and yet all students have to adopt English as the medium of instruction from Primary Four.' Professor Tsang said South Africa had a more mixed system but most students there were studying in an 'anti-mother-tongue' environment. 'What we have to do is to go beyond our mother-tongue policy ... Hong Kong is Cantonese speaking. But if the future citizens of Hong Kong want to communicate with their fellow countrymen on the mainland, they have to adopt Putonghua. If they want to communicate with other people in the global economy or the professional community at the global level, the common language will be English. 'The general policy objective for the medium of instruction should be to enable our students to transcend their mother tongue and to develop a biliterate and trilingual competency.' To achieve this overall objective, educators needed to face and resolve three key contradictions or problems - how to: Ease the transition from primary teaching in Cantonese to university education in English; Improve the geographical spread of English-medium education across the territory; and Adapt to the 'instructional effect' that gave students taught in English a significant advantage in getting into university. 'What we should look at is whether the MOI policy will resolve or ease these contradictions,' Professor Tsang said. His study of the secondary school careers of 37,277 students who entered Form One in 1998 or 1999 and sat A-levels in 2005 or 2006 was published last March. It found that 37 per cent of students qualified for Form Six and 86 per cent matriculated at English-medium schools compared with 23 per cent and 50 per cent for students at Chinese-medium schools. Students in Chinese-medium schools scored better in sciences and humanities in the early years but the gap narrowed later.