Ms. Cecilia Tang with Elaine
Miss Cecilia Tang, our volunteer teacher of the Hong Kong Lasallian Educational Outreach (LEO) Project, was delighted and touched when Elaine paid her a surprise visit before her lesson last Friday, 19th June 2020. Elaine was one of her students when we started this outreach project 4 years ago in 2017.
Hong Kong is a highly competitive society. Most Chinese parents believe that to secure a job and life with a promising future, their children need to enter one of the prestige universities. To do so, they must get good results in the Diploma of Secondary Education Examination. For applying a place in these prestigious universities, one of the minimum requirements is get a pass of Level 3 in the English Language. This is a big challenge to most local students, even though they begin to study English while they are in kindergarten. The standard to pass in this subject is quite high. In 2019, only 53% of the candidates managed to get level 3 or higher in this subject. To prepare for this examination, most parents pay dearly to let their children get extra lessons from private tutors or tutorial schools.
However, for the group of newly arrived Chinese students from low-income families, to get a pass in the English Language subject in the Diploma of Secondary Education Examination is almost like an impossible dream. They usually have their primary and junior secondary education in China where English is not a major subject. When they come to Hong Kong, most of them are not able to enter the mainstream schools because of their poor standard in the subject. Even those who managed to study in government or subsidized schools, they find it very hard to catch up with local students. Of course, their parents cannot afford private tutors or send them to tutorial schools, as many of the parents are manual workers and some of the families are receiving comprehensive social security assistance.
4 years ago, the Hong Kong Lasallian Family started English enhancement classes in Caritas Centre in Lower Ngau Tau Kok Estate to cater for the need of this group of students. Our outreach team consists of Brothers, Lasallian Education Council members, retired and present teachers, teaching about 20-30 students ranging from S1 to S5 every Friday. Although we know we could not work magic in a short time, we do hope that our service can strengthen the students’ self-confidence and make them know they have the same potential ability as the Hong Kong students. We try to make them believe they can make things possible and there are people who care for them.
Elaine’s dream is to become a teacher and to study in the Hong Kong University. In her first attempt to sit for the Diploma examination, she worked really hard and got q u i t e g o o d r e s u l t s i n s o m e subjects, but she only managed to obtain level 2 in the English subject. With the spirit of perseverance, she worked even harder and succeeded in her second trial. She is now a student of a 5 year double-degree course in the Education Faculty – a dream come true.
Well done Elaine and we wish you all the best on your path to serve people in need. (Text & Photos: Mr. Paul Tam)