Mother-tongue teaching -
Vetting of Applications for Use of English as Medium of Instruction
This paper briefs Members on the criteria and process for vetting applications from schools wishing to use English as the medium of instruction (MOI) under the Medium of Instruction Guidance for Secondary Schools.
2.On 25 September 1997, the Education Department issued the Medium of Instruction Guidance for Secondary Schools (Guidance) (Annex 1). The Guidance was formulated after wide consultation as reported in an earlier information paper for the Provisional Legislative Council Panel on Education (Annex 2). The Guidance applies to all public sector secondary schools in Hong Kong.
3.Under the Guidance, most public sector secondary schools should adopt Chinese for teaching all academic subjects, starting with their 1998/99 Secondary 1 intake and progressing each year to a higher level of secondary education. Schools wishing to use English as the MOI would have to apply by 22 October 1997 and to demonstrate their satisfying the requirements for effective use of the English medium.
Vetting and Appeals Mechanism
4.124 applications were received and examined by a Vetting Committee chaired by a non-official. There is also an Appeals Committee to consider appeal cases. The predominantly lay membership of these committees (see Annex 3) aims to ensure impartial input.
5.At its first meeting held on 9 October 1997, the Vetting Committee agreed on the following criteria, based on the Guidance (paragraph 2.4), for considering schools' applications:
- student ability: There should be an average percentage of not less than 85% of Medium of Instruction Grouping Assessment (MIGA) Groups * I and III students in the school's Secondary 1 intake for the past three years (ie 1995/96, 1996/97 and 1997/98 school years).
- teacher capability: Teachers of Mathematics, Science and Humanities subjects in the school should be capable of effectively using English as the MOI. The assessment was to be done by the school's principal, who should certify that the teachers concerned have such capability. The Vetting Committee agreed that the principal's certification was to be taken as sufficient basis for accepting the school's claim that it had met the teacher capability criterion. If necessary, the Vetting Committee would require the school to provide additional information to support its claim.
- support strategies and programmes: The school should be able to give sound school-based assistance to students. Among various indicators for this aspect (including school ethos, in particular the creation of a language rich environment conducive to the adoption of English as the MOI), one key indicator should be the provision of school-based bridging courses. Such programmes might already be in place or are planned to be implemented starting from the 1998/99 school year.
To ensure openness, fairness and transparency, all public sector secondary schools were informed of the criteria above by a circular letter on 13 October 1997 (Annex 4).
6.The Vetting Committee studied all applications against the criteria in paragraph 5 above. It also visited some applicant schools to better understand the actual situation. After considering all applications, the Vetting Committee agreed on the list of applicant schools to be recommended to the Director of Education for approval to use English as the MOI for teaching all academic subjects from their 1998/99 Secondary 1 intake.
7.Based on the advice of the Vetting Committee, 100 schools were informed on 1 December 1997 that they satisfied the requirements for effective use of English as the MOI and could therefore use English for teaching all academic subjects from their 1998/99 Secondary 1 intake. The remaining 24 schools were informed that they did not meet the requirements for effective use of English as the MOI and that they should adopt the mother tongue for teaching all academic subjects, starting from their 1998/99 Secondary 1 intake. Appeals could be forwarded by 15 December 1997.
8.In the event, 20 schools have forwarded appeals. These are now being considered by the Appeals Committee. The Appeals Committee comprises a non-official chairman, another non-official, the Chairman of the Board of Education (who is also the Chairman of the Vetting Committee) and the Director of Education. At the first meeting of the Appeals Committee, the Chairman of the Board of Education and the Director of Education volunteered to abstain from further deliberations of the Committee, but they would provide information or general expert advice at the specific requests of the Committee. It has also been suggested by the Committee that another person should be co-opted as a member of the Committee.
9.ED will help schools in the implementation of the Guidance. ED will review generally the MOI adopted by schools every three years, and will follow the academic and personal development of students studying in Chinese in a longitudinal study. In the intervening period, ED will monitor schools for compliance with the appropriate MOI and apply sanctions where necessary.
* Group I : able to learn effectively in either Chinese or English
Group II : able to learn more effectively in Chinese
Group III : able to learn better in Chinese but may also learn effectively in English