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LCQ15: Learning of the Chinese language by non-Chinese speaking people and recognition of the relevant educational qualifications

     Following is a question by Dr Hon Kenneth Chan and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Education, Mr Kevin Yeung, in the Legislative Council today (June 24):


     In June this year, the Education Bureau submitted a paper to the Panel on Education of this Council reporting on the measures to provide enhanced support for non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students in learning the Chinese language. Regarding the issues relating to the learning of the Chinese language by NCS people and recognition of the relevant educational qualifications, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it will consider providing additional funding for kindergartens admitting NCS students to support the NCS students of such kindergartens in learning the Chinese language; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(2) given that the authorities have provided an additional funding ranging from $0.8 million to $1.5 million per annum to schools admitting 10 or more NCS students, while schools admitting a smaller number of NCS students (i.e. one to nine) may apply to the authorities for funding on a need basis, of the number of schools admitting NCS students in the 2014/15 school year and the respective average funding received by them, and set out the relevant figures in the table below; whether the authorities will regularly review the funding policies concerned; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

Number of      Number of    Average funding
NCS students   schools      received
------------   ----------   ---------------
1 to 3
4 to 6
7 to 9
10 to 12
91 or more

(3) given that the authorities introduced the Chinese Language Curriculum Second Language Learning Framework ("Learning Framework") in the 2014/15 school year to help NCS students overcome the difficulties of learning Chinese as a second language, whether the authorities will review the actual operation of the Learning Framework and consider, in the light of the review outcomes, if there is a need to implement a separate curriculum for the Chinese language as a second language; if they will conduct such a review, of the specific work plan and timetable; if not, the reasons for that;

(4) whether it knows which programmes of the University Grants Committee-funded institutions and other tertiary institutions currently accept "Attained" in the Applied Learning Chinese (for NCS students) (ApL(C)) as an alternative Chinese language qualification for NCS students in meeting the basic admission requirements for the programmes concerned, with a breakdown by name of institution;

(5) given that the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research has commissioned local tertiary institutions to design and operate vocational Chinese language courses to provide training for NCS school leavers, and on successful completion of the courses, such NCS people will obtain qualifications recognised as the Qualifications Framework Level 1/Level 2, which will enhance their employability, of the details of the plan, including the contents of the courses, how well such qualifications are recognised by employers and the employment situation of such NCS people; and

(6) of the civil service grades currently accepting "Attained" and "Attained with Distinction" in ApL(C) as meeting the Chinese language proficiency requirements for the grades concerned?



     The Government is committed to encouraging and supporting the integration of non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students (Note 1) into the community, including facilitating their early adaptation to the local education system and mastery of the Chinese language. The 2014 Policy Address announced a series of measures to step up support for ethnic minorities, including enhanced support for NCS students in learning the Chinese language.

     Regarding the issues relating to the learning of the Chinese language by NCS students and recognition of the relevant educational qualifications, my reply to the six-part question raised by Dr Hon Kenneth Chan is as follows:

(1) The Committee on Free Kindergarten Education (the Committee) has made recommendations on the future development of kindergarten (KG) education. Among others, regarding the support for NCS students in KGs, the Committee recommended the provision of additional assistance for KGs admitting a cluster of NCS students (say eight or more) to enable them to enhance the support for these students. With the additional resources, KGs could provide teachers with professional training and development in the areas of culture, language and learner diversity, and develop effective strategies to help NCS students learn through the Chinese medium, so as to lay a foundation for their study in primary schools. KGs could also deploy the additional resources to enhance communication with parents of NCS students and strengthen home-school co-operation. The Education Bureau (EDB) is studying the recommendations of the Committee and further consulting the sector as well as the public before formulation of policies and specific measures as appropriate.

(2) Starting from the 2014/15 school year, the EDB has allocated about $200 million per year to step up the education support for NCS students in learning the Chinese language through, among others, facilitating schools' implementation of the "Chinese Language Curriculum Second Language Learning Framework" ("Learning Framework") and creation of an inclusive learning environment in schools. All public sector schools and Direct Subsidy Scheme schools offering local curriculum and admitting 10 or more NCS students are, based on the funding model (Note 2) and depending on the number of NCS students admitted, provided with an additional funding ranging from $0.8 million to $1.5 million for a school year. In the 2014/15 school year, a total of 173 schools (including 100 primary schools and 73 secondary schools) are provided with the additional funding. The number of the schools concerned by number of NCS students admitted and amount of additional funding provided is tabulated at Annex 1.

     For schools admitting a handful (i.e. one to nine) of NCS students, their NCS students benefit from an immersed Chinese language environment. Starting from the 2014/15 school year, these schools also implement the "Learning Framework" having regard to their NCS students' learning performance in Chinese, and may apply for an additional funding of $50,000 per year (Note 3) on a need basis to organise diversified after-school support programmes. In the 2014/15 school year, a total of 56 schools (including 24 primary schools and 32 secondary schools) have applied with each school concerned having been granted the additional funding of $50,000.

     The EDB has, starting from the 2014/15 school year, implemented the enhanced measures to further support NCS students' learning of the Chinese language (including the provision of the afore-mentioned additional funding). While the support measures need time to take root and create a sustainable impact on NCS students, we have no plans at this stage to review the arrangement of the additional funding concerned.

(3) Developed from the perspective of second language learners, the "Learning Framework" provides teachers with a systematic set of learning targets, learning objectives and expected learning outcomes arranged in "small" steps at different learning stages in accordance with the curriculum. It also serves as a set of benchmarks for student attainment adopting as reference for evaluation of learning effectiveness. Schools could make evidence-based recommendations as to whether individual NCS students may bridge over to the mainstream Chinese Language classes as appropriate and help them make an informed choice as to whether they should choose to take the mainstream Chinese Language examination in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE), or the Applied Learning Chinese (for NCS students) (ApL(C)) subject and/or attain other internationally recognised Chinese Language qualifications having regard to their aptitudes and aspirations. Hence, the "Learning Framework" applicable in the learning and teaching of Chinese for NCS students at school is a "learning Chinese as a second language" curriculum. The EDB will continue to develop research-based assessment materials with reference to the "Learning Framework", facilitate assessment for learning and offer support for NCS students in their learning of the Chinese language.

     We will review the "Learning Framework" on an on-going basis and refine the "Learning Framework" in due course having due regard to views and experience in different school contexts. The "Learning Framework" would also be reviewed, as appropriate, at an interval of three years upon completion of each Key Stage (e.g. Primary 1 to 3, Primary 4 to 6, Secondary 1 to 3). First-hand information (including curriculum planning, learning, teaching and assessment, etc.) collected through observation of schools' implementation of the "Learning Framework" and discussion with teachers will be used as the basis for evaluating the effectiveness of the relevant support measures.

(4) The eight University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded institutions and the vast majority of post-secondary institutions have accepted "Attained" in ApL(C) as an alternative Chinese qualification for NCS students in meeting the basic admission requirements. A list of institutions concerned is at Annex 2.

(5) The Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR) is going to implement the "Vocational Chinese Language Courses for NCS School Leavers". It has invited post-secondary institutions and education/training organisations to develop and operate Vocational Chinese Language courses pegged at Level 1 or 2 of the Qualifications Framework (QF) for NCS school leavers. These courses aim at enhancing NCS school leavers' capability and confidence in listening, speaking, reading and writing in Chinese (especially in reading and writing), helping them obtain qualifications recognised by the Government and different sectors, and enhancing their employability. SCOLAR has received two proposals and is now following up with the relevant institutions regarding details of the courses. The courses will be submitted to the accreditation authority to seek recognition under the QF. The accreditation process will generally take about half a year. It is expected that the first course will be launched in early 2016.

(6) The entry requirements (including language proficiency requirements (LPRs)) for appointments to the Civil Service are set according to the job nature and operational requirements of individual grades/ranks. Under the prevailing guidelines, in setting the LPRs, the departments/grades concerned should ensure that the LPRs specified are relevant to and commensurate with the satisfactory performance of the duties of the grades concerned.

     Starting from the 2014/15 school year, the EDB has introduced the new subject of ApL(C) by phases at senior secondary level. The first cohort of NCS students is expected to complete the courses in 2017. In this connection, the Government announced in December 2014 that, for the purpose of appointments to the Civil Service, the results of "Attained" and "Attained with Distinction" in ApL(C) would be accepted as meeting the Chinese LPRs of Level 2 and Level 3 respectively in Chinese Language in the HKDSE Examination.

Note 1: For the planning of educational support measures, students whose spoken language at home is not Chinese are broadly categorised as NCS students. In the 2014/15 school year, there are about 16 900 NCS students (8 700 at primary level and 8 200 at secondary level) attending public sector schools and Direct Subsidy Scheme schools.

Note 2: The funding model is as follows:

Number of       Additional funding
NCS students    ($ million)
------------    ------------------
10 to 25            0.8
26 to 50            0.95
51 to 75            1.1
76 to 90            1.25
91 or more          1.5

Note 3: In working out the total amount of additional funding for each school, reference has been drawn from the time-limited Project of After-school Extended Chinese Learning for NCS Students funded by the Language Fund implemented from the 2010/11 to 2013/14 school years.

Ends/Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Issued at HKT 17:15


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