In Hong Kong the education department has given permission to 100 local secondary schools to carry on teaching in English next year when a policy to implement mother tongue teaching comes into effect. But a further 24 schools which applied to carry on teaching in English have been refused permission. From Hong Kong, Jill McGivering reports:
From the start of the new academic year next August three out of four secondary schools in Hong Kong will use Chinese as the medium of instruction. The shift from English to Chinese is being controlled by the post hand-over government have just placed a new emphasis on mother tongue learning.
Now only schools granted special permission can continue to use English but the policy is already proving controversial. Pupils of schools who now teach in English are amongst the highest achievers in public examinations and many parents see an English language education as an advantage.
Many of the 24 schools now refused permission to carry on using English are expected to appeal against the ruling. The chairman of the committee which made the decision says selection was based on student ability, teacher ability and availability of support programmes.
Some educationalists have expressed concern that the new system will be divisive with English medium schools seen as an elite group. But those who support the switch to Chinese say many students will achieve a higher standard of education using their native language.
The conversion of Hong Kong classrooms from English to Chinese has already begun, in 1994 just over 50 schools taught in Chinese, from next year the figure will stand at 300.