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LCQ11: Non-Chinese speaking students with special educational needs

     Following is a question by the Hon Tanya Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (December 17):


     Recently, a number of parents of non-Chinese speaking students with special educational needs ("SEN") have relayed to me that local special schools and ordinary schools are unable to provide their children with proper education because of language barrier. They have also pointed out that more than 100 students are waiting for admission to the special school run by English Schools Foundation ("ESF"), which is the only one established for such students in Hong Kong. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the current number of non-Chinese speaking students with SEN, together with a breakdown by the type of their SEN and the class they are attending;

(b) whether it will review the existing policy of encouraging non-Chinese speaking students with SEN to receive integrated education in mainstream schools; if it will, of the details of the review; if not, the reasons for that;

(c) whether it will allocate more resources to ESF to provide sufficient places to such students; and

(d) apart from the special school places offered by ESF, whether the Government will consider providing through other means special school places suitable for such students; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



(a) The Education Bureau (EDB) collects information about students with special educational needs (SEN) in public-sector schools through the Special Education Management Information System (SEMIS). The SEMIS has been developed in recent years and system enhancement enabling full access of all ordinary public-sector schools to the SEMIS for direct input of relevant information was completed initially in early July 2008. Since it will take some time for the schools to input more comprehensive data into the system, we are unable to provide at the present stage the number of non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students with SEN by the type of their SEN and the class they are attending. Nevertheless, according to the information of the SEMIS, there were 164 and 84 NCS students with SEN in public-sector ordinary schools and special schools respectively in the 2007/08 school year.

(b) It is the established policy of the Government to facilitate early integration of NCS students into the local education system. Under this policy, we provide support services for NCS students to help them overcome language difficulties and adapt to the local education system. With regard to students with SEN, we encourage them to study in mainstream schools if they can benefit from the mainstream school setting. At the same time, we provide the schools with additional resources and professional support, including Learning Support Grant, teacher training and on-site professional support by educational psychologists, inspectors and school development officers of the EDB, etc., to assist them in implementing integrated education. As for NCS students with SEN, we also encourage them to study in public-sector schools to facilitate early integration, and provide them with different kinds of support pertaining to their needs as both NCS students and students with SEN.

     At present, schools provide a variety of support for students with SEN, including NCS students with SEN. Support services include small group teaching, co-teaching, Intensive Remedial Teaching Programme, individualised education programme, learning support by teaching assistants, speech therapy service, language learning support programmes for Chinese and English, after-school homework tutorial classes, peer tutoring, individual and group guidance, and accommodations in assignments, assessments and examinations. For schools with a larger cluster of NCS students, some adapt the Chinese curriculum for NCS students or provide alternative language subjects. Some schools also employ teaching assistants to provide direct in-class support for NCS students with SEN.

(c) English Schools Foundation (ESF) schools and other international schools provide an alternative for NCS students outside the public school sector. ESF, which receives some subvention from the Government, is operating a special school as well as learning support classes in its primary and secondary schools for students with SEN.

     To help ESF schools address the demand of their students with SEN, the EDB has provided ESF with additional funding starting from the 2006/07 school year. This has enabled ESF to operate additional learning support classes for students with SEN. Upon the completion of ESF's comprehensive assessment and review of the needs of students on the waiting list, we will explore with ESF whether it is necessary to provide more school places and support for such students in the ESF system.

(d) The Government's policy is to encourage NCS students to study in public-sector schools with a view to facilitating their integration into the Hong Kong community. Under the policy of integrated education, schools are provided with additional resources and professional support to cater for students with SEN, including NCS students with SEN. In other words, the Government is to accommodate the needs of NCS students with SEN in the public school sector through both general and additional support services. At present, we do not have any plan to provide other types of special school places for these students.

Ends/Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Issued at HKT 13:06


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