Go to main content
LCQ21: The use of Putonghua as the medium of instruction for teaching the Chinese Language Subject in primary and secondary schools
     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Cheng Chung-tai and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Kevin Yeung, in the Legislative Council today (February 7):


     Over the past decade or so, the Education Bureau (EDB) has set a long-term vision that Putonghua be used as the medium of instruction (MOI) for teaching the Chinese Language Subject (PMIC) in all primary and secondary schools. However, schools may decide by themselves having regard to their own circumstances on whether and how fast PMIC should be implemented. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the respective current numbers of primary and secondary schools which are implementing PMIC;

(2) of the total number of primary and secondary schools to which the Government provided subsidies in the past five years for implementing PMIC, and the annual total amount of the subsidies;

(3) if it has assessed whether, when a school which uses Cantonese as MOI for teaching the Chinese Language Subject (CMIC) switches to PMIC, the parents of the students in that school have a right to request the school to allow their children to continue to learn Chinese language in Cantonese; if it has assessed and the outcome is in the affirmative, how the EDB ensures that these parents can exercise such a right; and

(4) given that the findings of the Progress in the International Reading Literacy Study 2016 published in December last year have revealed that, when compared with CMIC, PMIC is not more effective in enhancing students’ reading literacy in Chinese, whether the EDB will review the aforesaid long-term goal?.


     Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of China and also an international city. To maintain our competitive edge and embrace the opportunities brought by globalisation, Hong Kong's policy on language education is to enhance the biliterate (Chinese and English) and trilingual (Cantonese, Putonghua and English) abilities of our students.

     My reply to the questions raised by the Dr Hon Cheng Chung-tai is as follows:

(1) The Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR) conducted the "Territory-wide Survey on the Use of Putonghua as Medium of Instruction to Teach Chinese Language (PMIC) in Schools of Hong Kong" in the 2015/16 school year with a response rate of about 80 per cent. The findings are as follows:
          Full adoption of PMIC
(Putonghua is used in over 50% of lesson time of the Chinese Language subject in all grades and classes)
Mixed mode of PMIC/CMIC
(Putonghua is used in over 50% of lesson time of the Chinese Language subject in some grades and classes while Cantonese is used in the remaining grades and classes)
Full adoption of CMIC
(Cantonese is used solely in the Chinese Language subject in all grades and classes)
Primary schools 16.4% 55.3% 28.3%
Secondary schools 2.5% 34.4% 63.1%

(2) In the 2008/09 school year, the SCOLAR implemented the six-year "Scheme to Support Schools in Using Putonghua to Teach the Chinese Language Subject" to support schools which aspired to make a pilot attempt of PMIC. In the past five years, a total of 40 primary and secondary schools participated in the scheme (which ended in the 2013/14 school year). The funding expenditure involved amounted to about $14 million.

(3) Choosing an appropriate medium of instruction (MOI) is a decision related to school policy. Schools would decide on a suitable MOI policy based on their professional considerations, which is a reasonable and established practice. Schools may take their own school contexts, such as the readiness of teachers, standards of students, language environment, curriculum planning, learning and teaching support as well as parents' expectations, into account when considering whether or not to adopt PMIC.  Schools should also communicate with parents about their MOI policy. The Education Bureau (EDB) has no plan to conduct any evaluation on schools' choice of MOI.

(4) No matter PMIC or CMIC is adopted, the subject aim remains the same as enhancing students' Chinese language proficiency. Both PMIC and CMIC can raise students' Chinese reading ability. We are of the view that there is no clear correlation between students' performance in reading and whether PMIC is adopted or not by their schools.

     Regarding the teaching of the Chinese Language subject, the EDB will continue to provide assistance, professional training and on-site support to schools as appropriate.
Ends/Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Issued at HKT 15:05
Today's Press Releases