The stress of choosing where your child will attend school (if they’re lucky enough to get a space) and how to afford it can be overwhelming. We chatted with expat parent and moderator of the Cantonese School Parents Group, Kate Choyce, for advice for those expats considering local Hong Kong schools as their education options.
This last year has certainly tested my dedication to the “canto for non-canto-speaking” cause.
I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn’t quite realise that is was going to be hard at every level. Emotionally, psychologically, financially, as a mother, as a school parent, and an employer – the challenge is never ending. Part of the reason I have been working so hard on this is for the benefit of my Facebook group “Cantonese School Parents Group”. I feel a social obligation to learn as much as I can and then share my resources to try and make this process easier for those who are coming behind me.
I struck schooling gold in the form of a Mr Ian Tsang from Triple-S Education. His marketing collateral is mainly in Chinese but he speaks perfect English and has unparalleled Hong Kong school knowledge. We had four meetings and by the end of it, my understanding of the “local” education system was much clearer. I have narrowed our Primary application choices down to nine.
My advice to anyone who contacts me regarding Chinese medium schools is this: only start this route if you are 110 percent committed to it. I am doing this against all odds because Hong Kong is home for us now. My determination to fully immerse both my children in the language of their birth country is unwavering; even with the full knowledge that this struggle will become more intense, my focus can verge on fanatical. Anything else, from my point of view, would be committing my children to a “half-life” here in Hong Kong and certainly stunting their future employment options.
I grew up in central London, with many friends from all over the world whose first language was not English; just think what they (and I) would have missed out on if they hadn’t struggled to learn the main language in their home country. At 2am in the morning when I’m awake with worry, at 6pm when trying to decipher another Chinese school notice, when the nanny leaves; it is this thought that propels me forward – for us, there is no other option.
Ian Tsang: 2287 5073 | facebook.com/iantsang.ek