Saturday, March 15, 2008

Preliminary effects of mother tongue education

Most parents do not want to send their children to Chinese-medium schools. Now, the first major study on the effects of the mother-tongue education policy gives the parents more reasons not to.

According to a study by Dr. Tsang, Wing-kwong, students who study in Chinese-medium schools from form 1 to form 5 is only about 50% as likely to enter a university in Hong Kong as compared to those who study in English-medium schools. If their school switches to English in form 4, they perform better but still lack behind those in English-medium schools, by about 14%.

They do perform better initially, in science and social science subjects. But the differences narrow by form 5. And by the time of the A level examinations, their advantages have totally disappeared. They do perform consistently better in Chinese, but are consistently worse off in English.

For most Hong Kong students, getting into university IS the objective. And English IS critically important. From this perspective, the Chinese-medium schools under the current policies is certainly not a good choice.

About 40% of the students who enter secondary school are considered suitable to learn in English. But only about 30% of school places are in English-medium schools. So, even if are considered by the government to be suitable to learn in English, there is still a one in three possibility that you will end up in a Chinese-medium school.

You are fortunate if you live in Wanchai or western-central on Hong Kong Island - because your chance of entering a English-medium school is more than 50% overall.

However, if you live in the out-lying islands or Saigon, your chance is less than 10%. It is better in Yuen Long, Northern New Territories, Tuen Mun and Kwai-Tsing - but your chance is still less than 20%.

Hong Kong is a place of inequalities.

Note: Dr. Tsang’s study covers only the first 2 batches of students in Chinese-medium schools, and we all know the reliability (or un-reliability) of such studies. So, take it with a grain of salt.

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