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LCQ21: Support measures for non-Chinese speaking students under 15-year free education policy

     Following is a question by Dr Hon Kenneth Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, in the Legislative Council today (May 18):


     The Government will introduce free quality kindergarten education starting from the 2017/18 school year for the implementation of the 15-year free education policy. Recently, some concern groups on learning needs of ethnic minority children have relayed to me their concern about whether the Government, when implementing this policy, will at the same time formulate corresponding measures to provide learning support for non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the details of the research projects relating to the education of NCS students conducted in each of the past five years by the Government itself or by other organisations using Government funding, and set out in a table for each project (i) the title, (ii) the subject of the research, (iii) the department/organisation responsible, (iv) the commencement date, (v) the completion date, (vi) the total expenditure incurred, (vii) the findings, (viii) the date on which the findings were published (if such findings were not published, of the reasons for that, and (ix) how the Government informed the various stakeholders of the findings and engaged them in the discussions of the policy issues concerned);

(2) whether the Government will consider, prior to the full implementation of the 15-year free education policy, holding discussion forums, seminars or other public engagement activities so as to collect the views of different stakeholders on the learning support to be provided for NCS students under that policy, with a view to formulating the necessary support measures in the light of such views; if it will, of the details; if not; the reasons for that;

(3) regarding the University-School Support Programmes (USP) under the School-based Professional Support Programmes, how the authorities monitor the implementation of the USP, and of the standards adopted for assessing the effectiveness of the support provided under the USP for those kindergartens admitting NCS students; and

(4) whether the Government will consider allocating additional resources for conducting more researches on and implementing relevant measures for the enhancement of the support for NCS students (e.g. providing more resources for schools admitting NCS students and the teachers concerned to further enhance the learning environment of NCS students as well as the relevant teacher training); if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     My reply to the question is as follows:

(1) In the past five years, there were no research projects relating to the education of non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students in kindergartens (KGs) conducted or funded by the Education Bureau (EDB). Under the free quality KG education policy, more researches (including those relating to the education of NCS students) will be encouraged to help the sector better cater for the learning needs of children (including NCS children).

(2) Following the announcement of the implementation of the free quality KG education policy with effect from the 2017/18 school year by the Chief Executive in his 2016 Policy Address, the EDB has organised about 30 meetings/briefings for various stakeholders (including KG operators/school sponsoring bodies, KG principals and teachers, relevant educational bodies, members of the public (including NCS parents) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs)) to collect their views on the implementation of the new policy (including the support for NCS students to facilitate their learning under the new policy). In March 2016, the EDB also met with more than 10 NGOs which provide services for the NCS community, explaining to them in detail the new policy and exchanging views on how to strengthen support for NCS students in KGs. We will continue to collaborate with relevant NGOs through various means such as meetings and briefings to provide more appropriate learning support for NCS students.

(3) The EDB provides school-based professional support for KGs through the University-School Support Programmes (USP) financed by the Education Development Fund (EDF) to enhance the professional capacities of teachers in teaching Chinese to NCS children to help them integrate into local schools and enable a smooth transition to primary education. Regarding the operation of the EDF, the EDB has set up the Advisory Committee on the EDF, which comprises frontline teachers, principals, academics and community members, as well as a cross-divisional working group within the Bureau to oversee and monitor the implementation of various programmes, including the USP, on a regular basis. Besides, the EDB evaluates the effectiveness of the USP every year through school visits, questionnaire surveys and/or focus interviews and mid-term and year-end reports submitted by service providers. Evaluation findings over the past few years consistently showed that participating KGs were satisfied with the school-based support provided, and that such programmes met the expectations and needs of the schools in enhancing the professional capabilities of teachers to cater for the learning needs of NCS children.

(4) NCS students' early start in learning Chinese is crucial to their adaptation to the local curriculum and integration into the local community, the earlier the better. Under the free quality KG education policy to be implemented from the 2017/18 school year onwards, a grant comparable to the recommended salary of one KG teacher will be provided for KGs admitting eight or more NCS students. With the additional resources, KGs can provide teachers with more manpower support and professional training to develop effective strategies to help NCS students learn through the Chinese medium so as to lay a foundation for their study in local primary schools. KGs should also enhance communication with parents of NCS students and strengthen home-school cooperation. Besides, school-based professional support will continue to be provided and further enhanced by the EDB to help KGs (including those admitting less than eight NCS students) build up the expertise in facilitating NCS students' learning of the Chinese language for a smooth transition to primary education. The EDB will also enhance teacher training programmes on the teaching and learning of the Chinese language for NCS students. Starting from the 2016/17 school year, a new programme funded by the University Grants Committee, namely Bachelor of Education (Honours) (Early Childhood Education) in Leadership and Non-Chinese Speaking Children Programme, will be provided by the Hong Kong Institute of Education with the aim of strengthening training for the leaders and management staff of KGs for providing more appropriate learning support for NCS students.

Ends/Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:56


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