Until Britain captured Hong Kong in 1841, Hong Kong was an extension of China. Hong Kong consisted mainly of village schools for the longest time. These schools had only one teacher who would have to teach all the different grade levels. However, the teacher would usually return to mainland China during fishing season. In 1860, Hong Kong had about 20 village schools, but as most can probably guess, the children in these villages didn't receive the best education that they could have. That is why only the peasants sent their children to village schools, while the wealthy would send their children to mainland China to get schooling. The thinking for farmers was that their child was supposed to take over the family land after the father passed away and to farm, you don't need that great of an education. However, the rich would want their children to be well educated so the children could become wealthy. Over the years, the way of teaching started to change. In 1843, there was a boy's only education system set up for British and Hong Kong boys. However, this system was not created by the British; it was the Italian missionaries who set this up. Then in 1861, western teaching was incorporated into Hong Kong's style. Finally, in 1887, the first medical school was opened up with western teachings. Even with all of the advances, the poor were not a priority until the rulers discovered how much of the population was poor. The poor did not become a priority until 1919. By the 1920's and 1930's the Hong Kong education system was very close to what it is now. Today, the Hong Kong follow England's format for the length of school. The grades go as follows: "pre-school, general education, technical and vocational education, higher education, and adult education."
This is a typical Hong Kong school.
In Hong Kong, schools don't follow the grade pattern America does where it goes kindergarten through twelve. They go, as we have listed above, "pre-school, general education, technical and vocational education, higher education, and adult education." Children in Hong Kong usually go to pre-school at 3 and 4 years of age. Depending on the age of the child, children can go to pre-school as if it is a nursery, or as if it is a kindergarten. Children go to nurseries if they are two and three and kindergarten when they are four, five, and six. Charities and unpaid organizations usually have to run the nurseries while the kindergartens are privately run. The government doesn't think that pre-school is that important and that is why they do not fund any of the pre-schools. Primary school is the same as elementary school and students start at 6 years of age and stay there for 6 years. In primary schools students learn much about math, English, and Chinese, but there are also six other subjects that they learn. After primary school comes secondary school and secondary school is broken up into three years of junior secondary and two years of senior secondary. In secondary schools, children learn mostly the same stuff as they do in primary school; however, it is at a higher level. After Hong Kong children finish senior secondary school, they have to take the "Hong Kong Certificate of Examination Exam."
Tests in Hong Kong are used to place children in bands. Students are placed into bands depending on whether they are high achievers, average achievers, or poor achievers. There are three bands, where Band 1 has the high achievers, Band 2 has the average achievers, and Band 3 has the poor achievers. This allows the schools to separate all of the students so it is easier to teach the students. With Band 1, teachers can go faster than usual while in Band 3, teachers go slower to make sure students memorize the different subjects.
The education system in Hong Kong is usually said to be a spoon feeding system. This is because the teachers don't give the students the answers, but gives them clues so it is easier for the student to answer the question. Majority of the time, schools focus on you rote learning, instead of the way we learn in America. In Hong Kong, they rote learn because it is better for exams. When you rote learn, you memorize something, but don't fully understand it. In America, we learn in depth about different things and why they occur.
Hong Kong is very strict. For every minor offense you make, they deduct one point from you. The teacher can deduct three points for a major offense. To get a major offense, you have to cause three minor offenses. After three major offenses you are automatically suspended. These offenses, even the most basic offense, is recorded in the teacher's log so they keep an extra careful eye on you, it is recorded in your permanent record and you have no chance of it ever coming off, and finally, it goes on your report card so your parents get involved with it as well. All the schools in Hong Kong are different in the way they take their disciplinary actions. Some schools are harder with small disturbances rather than big ones like theft and vice versa. There are also occasions when a teacher will abuse their power and give people demerit points just because they don't like you or agree with some of your answers.
As you can see, Hong Kong schools do have things in common with English schools but there are also many things that are different. For instance the way they have their students learn. In addition to that, Hong Kong schools are much stricter with their rules compared to English schools.
Many children in Hong Kong live in poverty. This has many draw backs, not just because their living conditions are extremely bad, but most kids cannot go to school. This will not allow them to live a productive life as an adult. The problem with Hong Kong's education system is that the Hong Kong children have to pay to go to school after middle school, unlike in America where kids don't have to pay until college (unless you're in a private school). Not only do the Hong Kong children have to pay for high school, but majority of the population is living in poverty. This means that majority of the population won't be able to pay for their child's schooling. Almost 125 million children don't go to school every day in Hong Kong. This is including the kids who could go to middle and elementary school. Many don't go to elementary or middle school because they know they won't be able to receive a high school education. Without the high school education, they will not be able to get a good job and this is because the education in elementary and middle school is very basic. This creates the thought that there is no point in even going to the schools before high school because without that high school education going to the other schools is pointless.
This is a picture of a middle school in a poor neighborhood.
There are many problems with the education system and the Hong Kong government is trying to solve these problems. One solution is to make schools neither public nor private, but to make them subsided schools. These schools are run by different charities. This will help because people do not have to pay for the school and for the most part, they are self funding. This allows for your government to keep some money to themselves and put it to good use, like cleaning the streets or having welfare payments. Hong Kong has already started to create some of these schools, but have not started to make subsided high schools, and most cannot afford to go to high school, so they do not go to high school. The education people in Hong Kong get during middle and elementary school is so basic that they cannot get a job. In the near future, Hong Kong wants to get more subsided schools, and have more people completing school through high school and college. This will lead to more people having jobs, which will get people off the street, and then their children will have a better life then they would have if they were living in poverty. This will get Hong Kong on its feet again and make it become a player in the world economy like it was before. Hong Kong may be able to make progress with the solutions they have made, but more needs to be done to allow people from Hong Kong to live a better life.
Hong Kong Education Education in Hong Kong In Depth Education Facts Comparing U.S. and Hong Kong Schools
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