The Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR) today (7 July) endorsed the award of $11.6 million to the University of Hong Kong to set up a Support Centre for Teachers Using Chinese as the Medium of Instruction.
The approval of the Trustee of the Language Fund will be sought to finance the project from the Fund.
The Support Centre is one of SCOLAR's major recommendations to the Government under the package of measures in support of the mother-tongue teaching policy which is due to take effect at the beginning of the 1998/99 school year.
Apart from the Support Centre, the package includes the provision of a one-off grant for Chinese-medium (CMI) schools to organise school-based English Enhancement Programmes and to set up an English Corner within each school on a voluntary basis.
The package was accepted by the Government earlier this year as it will provide additional support for CMI students in English language learning and for teachers switching from English medium of instruction to Chinese medium of instruction. The whole package will cost about $68 million.
Response from schools to the provision of the one-off grant for the school-based English programme and the English Corner has been positive. Around 240 schools have applied for the one-off grant so far.
Chairman of SCOLAR, Dr Daniel Tse Chi-wai, said today, "The Support Centre breaks new ground in Hong Kong as it will cater to the needs of teachers teaching academic subjects at the junior secondary level in the Chinese medium.
"It will facilitate the use of Chinese language across the curriculum when the majority of schools start to use mother-tongue as the medium of teaching in the next school year."
Preparatory work will commence in July and the project leader will conduct a large scale needs analysis to ascertain the major concerns of teachers switching to CMI.
The Support Centre is expected to be operational by January 1999, which will provide the following services:
- a resource centre with help-desk consultation service which opens after school hours;
- an on-line database covering the use of Chinese as a medium of instruction in seven curricular subjects in teaching and testing materials, and teachers' conferences for the exchange of ideas; and
- organisation of seminars and workshops on the use of resources and management of CMI implementation, the use of Chinese in subject specific genre, and knowledge and awareness of language in classroom interactions etc.
Experienced teachers in using CMI will be invited to share their experience in the above workshops or seminars.
"We believe the Support Centre will be conducive to improving the quality of education through mother-tongue teaching and to cultivate the spirit of sharing and collaboration amongst teachers in Hong Kong," Dr Tse said.