HONG KONG SCHOOLS DEMOTE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

HONG KONG SCHOOLS DEMOTE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

HONG KONG, DEC 2 (REUTERS) – POST-COLONIAL HONG KONG IS TO CUT DRASTICALLY THE NUMBER OF SCHOOLS THAT TEACH CLASSES IN ENGLISH, THE TERRITORY’S EDUCATION DEPARTMENT SAID ON TUESDAY.
THREE QUARTERS OF HONG KONG SCHOOLS WILL HAVE TO CONDUCT CLASSES IN THE LOCAL CANTONESE DIALECT FROM SEPTEMBER NEXT YEAR, COMPARED TO HALF OF SCHOOLS BEFORE BRITAIN HANDED HONG KONG BACK TO CHINA IN JULY.
"THE VETTING COMMITTEE HAS DECIDED THAT 100 SCHOOLS CAN TEACH IN ENGLISH," AN EDUCATION DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN TOLD REUTERS. "THE REST WOULD HAVE TO USE CANTONESE AS THE MEDIUM OF INSTRUCTION," SHE SAID.
AFTER THE GOVERNMENT UNVEILED ITS EDUCATION POLICY IN SEPTEMBER, 124 SCHOOLS HAD APPLIED TO CONTINUE TEACHING IN ENGLISH.
THE CHANGE REFLECTS A NEW POLICY TO FOSTER THE USE OF CANTONESE IN THE FORMER BRITISH COLONY, WHERE IT IS THE MOTHER TONGUE OF MOST RESIDENTS.
CURRENTLY, 208 HONG KONG SECONDARY SCHOOLS USE ENGLISH AS THE TEACHING MEDIUM, 77 USE CANTONESE, WHILE 117 USE BOTH. THE SPOKESWOMAN SAID THE RULING DOES NOT AFFECT ENGLISH-LANGUAGE UNIVERSITIES.
THE GOVERNMENT ISSUED THE LIST OF AFFECTED SCHOOLS ON MONDAY.
THE 100 INSTITUTIONS ALLOWED TO CONTINUE TEACHING IN ENGLISH ARE MOSTLY CATHOLIC SCHOOLS WHICH HAVE TURNED OUT A LONG LINE OF CELEBRATED ALUMNI WHO HAVE BECOME HONG KONG GOVERNMENT AND BUSINESS LEADERS.
LAST WEEK THE GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCED A NEW RULE MAKING IT COMPULSORY FOR ALL CIVIL SERVANTS TO PASS A CHINESE LANGUAGE TEST BEFORE THEY CAN JOIN A LONG-TERM LOCAL PENSION SCHEME, SPARKING PROTESTS FROM EXPATRIATE CIVIL SERVANTS.
THE NEW EDUCATION POLICY HAS PUZZLED MANY IN THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY, WHO WONDER HOW FUTURE GENERATIONS WILL BE ABLE TO WORK EFFECTIVELY IN INTERNATIONAL COMMERCE.
THE GOVERNMENT HAS DEFENDED THE POLICY AS A NECESSARY MEASURE TO SHORE UP FALLING ACADEMIC STANDARDS, ARGUING THAT TEACHING IN THE MOTHER TONGUE MAKES IT EASIER FOR PUPILS TO UNDERSTAND THEIR LESSONS AND LEADS TO BETTER SCHOOL-LEAVING EXAM GRADES.
BUT HONG KONG LEADER TUNG CHEE-HWA HAS AT THE SAME TIME LAUNCHED A DRIVE TO HIRE MORE NATIVE-SPEAKING ENGLISH TEACHERS, TO TEACH THE LANGUAGE AS A SUBJECT.
02-12-97

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