Ebenezer School plans to launch its new senior secondary curriculum next year to give visually impaired students an alternative for transferring to mainstream schools. But some alumni are worried that the policy would put a brake on the promotion of integrated education in Hong Kong.
Local media HK01 reported on Tuesday that the Education Bureau has approved Ebenezer’s proposal to operate senior secondary classes starting from the 2019/2020 academic year. On Tuesday evening, Young Post received a written response from the principal, Remy Wong Kwan-bo, and then the bureau, which confirmed that the school will add Secondary Four to Secondary Six classes in the upcoming term, expanding from the existing junior secondary classes.
Apart from the four core subjects, the school will offer four electives for students to choose from – Tourism and Hospitality, Health Management and Social Care, Information and Communication Technology, and Technology and Living.
According to Wong, the aim of adding the senior curriculum is to help students who struggle to learn in mainstream schools after graduating from Ebenezer in Secondary Three.
“The existing integration practice into ordinary schools does not benefit all students,” Wong wrote. “We believe this can fill the existing service gap and give students another choice.”
He added the feedback from current students and parents regarding the policy has been positive, and the majority of those in the alumni association have showed support for the new move. But he admitted some concerns were raised during the briefing session in December last year.
Some alumni are worried that Ebenezer students would prefer to stay in their comfort zone to pursue senior secondary classes, rather than being integrated into mainstream schools. This may limit the development of integrated education, which means including students with special educational needs or disabilities in ordinary schools.
“Mainstream schools generally provide a friendlier environment for visually impaired students to interact with other people, which will help them with adapting to the society in the future,” said Ebenezer graduate Perry Tam Sai-kit, who is now an Executive Committee member of the Hong Kong Blind Union.
Tam believes it is only a matter of time before visually impaired teenagers have to face the outside world, so it is better for the school to equip them with the skills as early as possible. He added the school currently provides a lot of services to its graduates, such as translating Braille into written words on students’ homework for mainstream school teachers to mark. Improving these services can help students adapt to the new learning environment more easily, Tam said.
Wong stressed the school would continue to promote integrated education, but he deems sending students to outside schools when they are not prepared would hamper their development.
“If students are not ready, it will put much pressure on them. Rather than benefiting from integrated education, their learning progress and overall development would be hindered,” Wong wrote.