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The demand for an international school in Hong Kong.

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Introduction: The demand for international school in Hong Kong is increasing in the recent years. According to the annual questionnaire survey done by the Education Department, the total number of students in international schools increases 83.2 % from 1610 to 2950 within four years (1997/98 - 2001/02). Moreover, the total number of local students attending those schools also increases 63.2% from 6.8% to 11.1%. We can see that, local parents have a high value on their children's entry into international schools. In this essay, I am going to explain some reasons for the lure of international schools in Hong Kong. Firstly, I will discuss their packaging and images by exploring the web pages of some international schools in Hong Kong. Secondly, I will compare these schools with local schools in order to find out the reasons why these packaging are so attractive in Hong Kong context. Finally, I will also interview with a previous international student and his parents to find out their points of view on this issue. 1. The packaging and images of international schools It is a common belief among Hong Kong parents and students that international schools are very "attractive". However, how "attractive" are they? In this part, I am going to study the packaging and images of three international schools in order to answer this question. The three international schools selected are Chinese International School, Yew Chung International School and Shatin College. They are chosen because they gain increasing popularity and high reputation among parents in Hong Kong. By exploring to the web pages of the above three schools, the packaging used and the images of international schools can be divided into five parts: general objective and mission, curriculum, language, teachers and teaching methods and facilities. a. General mission and objective The general mission and objective of Chinese International School and Yew Chung International School are very similar. ...read more.


Many parents want their children to achieve high proficiency in written and spoken English because it is a common belief that people whose English standard up to the level of native speaker are more probable to get a better career. As mentioned above, most teaching staffs in international schools are native English speaker and English is the common language used in that multinational environment, parents believe that their children can acquire English more effectively in international schools. Moreover, international schools were first established to cater for the needs of expatriate children who moved to Hong Kong with their parents. Usually, their parents are government officials, professionals or executive in internationally recognized companies who have high social status. Therefore, sending children to study in international schools became a symbol of social status and wealth. Moreover, the school fees of these schools are so high that not so many parents can afford. For example, the annual school fee for year 7 (equivalent to F.1) in Chinese International School is $110,700. However, parents do not have to pay any school fee if they send their children to local school because there is nine-year compulsory education in Hong Kong. All these make international schools seem to be superior to local schools and are so attractive among parents. 2. Present education system and quality of local schools To a certain extent, the popularity of international schools reflects parents' discontent on existing education system and local schools. Then, what are the differences between international schools and local schools? In the following paragraphs, I will compare international schools with local schools in certain aspects: class size, facilities, curriculum, medium of instruction and teaching approaches. I will also look at the effects of recent educational policies on parents' choice of schools. Firstly, the class size of international school is much smaller than that of local schools. Take the example of Shatin College and my mother school, which is a typical government subsidized school: the maximum number of students in F.1-3 is 23 only, but there are more than 40 students in a class in my mother school. ...read more.


He was also happy about the subjects available. He did not have to choose science stream or arts stream. He could choose the subjects he was interested, e.g. Calculus and Economics in year 13. Such combination is not allowed in local school. He was also appreciated to the active learning atmosphere. He said everyone was eager to participate in activities and ask questions when they did not understand. Despite of so many good points of international schools, the interviewee also complained that the life there was not as relaxed as many people though. They had regular tests and examinations too. His parents also complained that the teachers there were not strict enough. Students were not punished if they did not hand in their homework. Therefore, self-control is very important. Lastly, I asked both the parents and the interviewee if it was worthwhile to spend a huge amount of money by sending children to international schools. Both of them agreed that the school fee was too high (about $20000 per semester), but it was worthwhile. Nevertheless, they also admitted that the existence of international schools might create "labeling" effects because only those who can afford the school fee can study there. This may not be a healthy phenomenon in the society. Conclusion In this essay, I have explored the packaging and images of some international schools, why these packaging and images are so attractive in Hong Kong context, comparison between international schools and local schools and interviewed with an alumnus of an international school. It is undeniable that international schools provide wider range of subjects for students to choose, better facilities, smaller class size, more diverse activities than local schools. All these are the lures of international schools in Hong Kong. To a certain extent, international schools provide an alternative for students and parents. In addition, local schools can learn from international schools because they are able to provide an environment that enables children to develop the ability to question, to discover and to create. These abilities are exactly what are needed in this information age to maintain our competitive edge. 2 ...read more.

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