Based on the success of improving the language skills and confidence of the children attending the Language Training Programme, the language programme was extended to help other children in impoverished areas of Hong Kong. Thanks to generous donations from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, a new centre was created.
This centre opened in July 2009 on the Lei MukShue Estate in Kwai Chung, and covers the Tsuen Wan, Tsing Yi and Kwai Chung districts of Hong Kong.
This estate and these districts were selected due to the number of poverty indicators. The level of unemployment in Lei MukShue East is among the highest in the whole of the Tsuen Wan district. Only 55.8 % of the adult population are employed, with approximately 65.9 % of the male population and 45.6 % of the female population being in work. The median monthly income for the working population in 2001 was just $13,300 per month.
Lei Muk Shue estate was completed in 1975 and is comprised of eleven apartment blocks. It was built to accommodate approximately 4, 066 households or approximately 13, 467 people. (Hong Kong Housing Authority Website) The actual population according to the 2001 census is 4,689 households containing 16,242 people. Of this number, 18.3 % are aged under 15 years and there is a 93.5 % attendance rate at school for those aged from 6–18 years.
Having the service of the language centre located in this estate allowschildren from the three districts- Tsuen Wan, Kwai Chung and Tsing Yi to improve their educational prospects and their future. These districts are among the poorest in Hong Kong. They have a combined population of 752,619. 170,276 of these are aged between 0 and 19 years of age. There are 31,500 households in these areas and 28.75 % of these have a monthly household income of less than $10,000.
These districts have 12.5 % of the Comprehensive Social Security Allowance claimants in Hong Kong. That is to say that some 37,167 people receive benefits from the Hong Kong government due to low (or no) income. Of these, 4,654 are single parent families with children under 18. There are another 2,693 (14.9 % of the Hong Kong total) who receive CSSA due to low earnings and a further 5, 148 (12.4 % of the Hong Kong total) who receive these benefits due to unemployment.
Obviously, the districts of Tsuen Wan, Kwai Chung and Tsing Yi are areas of deprivation. Given the multiple social problems in the area including high unemployment, over crowding and a higher-than-average number of CSSA claimants, special services are desperately needed for these residents to improve the educational and future prospects of their children and future generations.
The CLC offers language services to children and young people aged from 3 to 18 years. Kindergarten and primary students receive two 1 ½ hour English classes per week, as well as 1 hour of Storytelling and 1 hour of Putonghua. Secondary students receive one 1 ½ hour English class, as well as 1 hour of Storytelling, plus, they choose one elective each week. Elective courses cover a range of topics, including study skills, business skills, Putonghua skills and fun courses.
The CLC has become an integral part of its community. Attendance has been at capacity for a number of years, with hundreds of children being served every week, and the facility fully utilized. Outcomes are tremendously favourable, with students, parents and teachers all reporting marked improvements, not only in language ability, but in overall academics and self confidence.