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LCQ14: Non-Chinese speaking students learning in kindergartens

     Following is a question by the Hon Abraham Shek and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, in the Legislative Council today (December 16):


     The Committee on Free Kindergarten Education pointed out in a report published this year that as it is important to facilitate early integration of non-Chinese speaking (NCS) children into the local education system and community, parents of NCS children are encouraged to send their children to local kindergartens (KGs) for early exposure to the Chinese language in an immersed language environment. Yet, about 4 per cent of KGs under the Pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme (PEVS) have admitted NCS students accounting for 50 per cent or above of their total enrolment. It is argued that the learning environment in such KGs is not conducive to NCS students' learning of the Chinese language, rendering them difficult to integrate into mainstream primary schools later on. In connection with NCS students' learning in KGs, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it knows the respective numbers of students and NCS students in KGs in each of the past three years, with a breakdown by type and funding mode of KGs;

(2) whether it knows the respective numbers of PEVS KGs with NCS students accounting for (i) 50 per cent or less; (ii) 51 to 60 per cent; (iii) 61 to 70 per cent; (iv) 71 to 80 per cent; (v) 81 to 90 per cent and (vi) over 90 per cent of their total enrolment;

(3) whether the Government received any complaint in the past three years about KGs conducting admission interviews in Cantonese; if it did, of the number and the details; whether it has assessed if such an arrangement has placed NCS children in an unfair and unfavourable position for securing admission thereby contravening the Race Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 602); if it has assessed and the outcome is in the affirmative, of the details and the respective numbers of KGs requested to take rectification actions; if the assessment outcome is in the negative, the reasons for that; whether the Government has measures in place to facilitate parents of NCS children in accessing the admission requirements of KGs and the relevant information in the notices published in Chinese by KGs; if it does, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(4) whether the professional development programmes organised by the Education Bureau for KG teachers cover topics on cultural sensitivity and the learning needs of NCS students; if they do, whether all KG teachers are required to attend programmes on such topics; if not, of the reasons for that?



(1) The respective numbers of students and non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students in kindergartens (KGs) in the past three years, with a breakdown by type and funding mode of KGs are set out at Annex 1.

(2) The respective numbers of KGs under the Pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme with different percentages of NCS students are set out at Annex 2.

(3) We have not received any complaint in the past three years about KGs conducting admission interviews in Cantonese. To ensure equal education opportunity for all children regardless of their race, gender and ability, the Education Bureau (EDB) has advised schools via different channels, including school circular and briefing sessions, that their school-based admission mechanism should be fair, just and open, and in compliance with the existing legislation (including the anti-discrimination ordinances like the Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO)) as well as circulars and guidelines issued by the EDB. KGs are required to inform parents in advance of the details of their admission mechanism through effective channels (e.g. guidance notes in application forms, admission guidelines/leaflets, school website, etc.). In mid-June this year when briefing sessions on admission arrangements were conducted, the EDB invited representatives from the Equal Opportunities Commission to share with KGs the important points to note in admission arrangements and to promote the understanding of the RDO in the sector. We have also advised KGs to provide assistance for NCS students/parents (such as translation and/or interpretation) as far as possible during the admission process.

     The EDB has been trying to help parents (including NCS parents) make an informed choice of KG for their children. Various information materials regarding KG education and admission arrangements are publicised in different ethnic languages. As for the Profile of KGs and KG-cum-Child Care Centres (KG Profile) which is updated and issued annually, the basic information of individual KGs therein (such as school name, address, telephone, approved school fees, information on student enrolment and serving teachers, etc.) is provided in both the Chinese and the English language. While the information about school facilities, curriculum and characteristics in the KG Profile is currently provided only in Chinese, we plan to provide also the English translation starting from the 2016/17 school year. We are also exploring ways to promote KG education to a wider NCS community in collaboration with non-governmental organisations.

(4) As for professional development programmes, all recognised teacher training programmes on early childhood education (Note) operated by local teacher education institutions comprise a core domain on catering for children with diverse needs, which prepares KG teachers to support children with diverse needs, cultural background and their families. Teachers' capability to address the learning needs of NCS students is also enhanced through regular professional development programmes organised by the EDB such as "Curriculum Understanding and Implementation" and "Catering for Young Children's Diverse Learning Needs", which aim at enhancing KG teachers' professionalism in designing and implementing a child-centred curriculum that embraces cultural diversity. KGs may also apply for the EDB's school-based support services to enhance their professional capabilities in teaching Chinese to NCS children. Besides, KGs can apply for funding from the Quality Education Fund to conduct projects under the priority themes of "Effective Learning and Teaching of Languages", "Promoting Whole Child Development in KG Education", "Catering for Learners' Diversity" and "Support for Students with Diverse Needs" to cater for the needs of NCS students.

Note: The programmes are Certificate Course in Early Childhood Education, Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood Education and Postgraduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education.

Ends/Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Issued at HKT 15:58


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