How Hong Kong’s non-Chinese-speaking ethnic minority pupils can benefit from targeted government budget support
The 2018-19 Hong Kong budget has earmarked HK$500 million for a steering committee under the chief secretary to strengthen support for ethnic minorities and enhance collaboration within the government.
Hong Kong Unison suggests that part of the HK$500 million be used to develop a systematic Chinese curriculum and make such teaching materials widely available to non-Chinese-speaking (NCS) students. The government should also inform the public about the structure and accountability of the steering committee and how ethnic minorities will be consulted on the formulation or revision of policies.
The budget also proposed an additional recurrent expenditure of HK$2 billion to achieve quality education on initiatives such as enhancing the professional development of teachers and strengthening support for kindergartens.
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Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in her election manifesto that a professional ladder should be established for primary and secondary schoolteachers to recognise their specialised skills in teaching Chinese as a second language.
Some of the HK$2 billion should go towards providing systematic teacher training to cater to NCS students, and for promotions and salary increases for trained teachers.
The previously approved additional HK$5 billion recurrent funding for education still has an unspent balance of HK$1.4 billion.
We suggest using part of this funding to: support NCS students in other subjects taught in Chinese; support Cantonese language learning for NCS students in schools which use Mandarin to teach the Chinese language subject; improve “Performance Indicator (Kindergartens)” to reflect how well kindergartens are catering to the needs of NCS children and parents; and to track the adaptation and development of NCS children in mainstream kindergartens and their transition to Primary One.
After years of campaigning by the ethnic community and civil society, together with increased government concern over minority education in recent years, there should be no shortage of resources for ethnic minorities in Chinese learning. If taxpayers’ money is effectively spent, overcoming the issues of Chinese learning and improving upward mobility for ethnic minorities would not be an unattainable goal.
Phyllis Cheung, executive director, Hong Kong Unison