A government-funded secondary school faces having to stop teaching in English because of a growing difference in student abilities, its principal said.
Wah Yan College’s principal, So Ying-lun, said more youngsters, who might not get the best grades, had been admitted to Pun U Association Wah Yan Primary School. Wah Yan College has a quota of 79 places for primary school students from here.
The Education Bureau says that only schools which fill 85 per cent of places with the top 40 per cent of students are allowed to teach in English. If Wah Yan College stays government-funded, it risks being removed from the list of schools allowed to teach in English.
So says the school in Wan Chai had been considering becoming a Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) school. This means it could charge fees and have more independence. He said the move could happen as early as September 2019.
“As the second most spoken language in the world, English should be taught at schools,” said YP cadet and Creative Secondary School student Alex Chu Hin-yeung, 15. “Hong Kong is an international city and citizens must be able to communicate with people from outside the city in order to maintain its place in the world.”
Fellow Creative Secondary School student and cadet Elina Harding, 16, agrees that English still has a place in local schools. “English should be compulsory. Everyone needs to know at least a little English. It’s the most widely used language in the world. It’s useful for getting around and when you’re applying for a job. If schools stop teaching in English, many students won’t try to learn it in their own time.”
HKU first year student and junior reporter Joy Pamnani, 18, disagrees. She feels local schools need to be careful about which language is their official Medium of Instruction (MOI). “Schools should get to choose what language to teach in, because it means they can assign better teachers, learning resources and services for students.” But, Joy adds, that doesn’t mean every school should just adopt Chinese as their medium of instruction (CMI). “The Education Bureau needs to make sure schools are capable. We’re always competing with other countries. We need to keep our global ranks high [and some of that’s] through having people with decent English.”