14 July 2010

What our parents really care about education in the Village

In the last decade, there have been a few major changes in this Village's education system, e.g. the Medium of Instruction, the new Academic Structure reform. My impression, however, is that parents care more about what language the school use for teaching rather than the reform of academic structure and curriculum.

It's not quite an issue for most of the countries to choose what language should they use in schools. In the old days, we used to use Cantonese with English textbooks. Now, some schools promote themselves for teaching Chinese subjects in Putonghua and others in English. The hardship these schools face upon recruiting students is quite a strange phenomenon in a place where over 90% of population speak Chinese as their mother tongue. The cause of this phenomenon is that parents prefer "English Schools" (to be an English School, it's required by the Education Bureau to use English as medium in all subjects except Chinese); they believed that a good command of English is the key to their children's success. They work around sending their children to an English School by any means, including buying address in the district and renting a flat in the district for a few months.

But they don't care much about the more important and more profound changes in Academic Structure reform and curriculum reform. The milestone of the reforms in this year is that we'll have the last batch of Form 5 students taking the HKCEE and a new public exam HKDSE will be introduced in 2012. Secondary and tertiary education will become 3+3+4 (3 years each in junior and senior secondary, 4 years university) instead of 5+2+3 (5 year secondary, 2 years matriculate and 3 year university). At the same time, a new subject called Liberal Studies was introduced. I can assure you less than 50% of parents know what that is, not to say the syllabus. But it's a compulsory subject like Chinese, English and Mathematics.

It's not uncommon for Villagers to have their priority wrong; it's like taking a bus not knowing their route but just caring about whether the seats are comfortable.

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