With the wonderful support of our new sponsors, The Sprouts Foundation, a third language centre to support children from disadvantaged families was opened this year. This new centre is unique as it is the first one located within a Po Leung Kuk primary school. These classes are offered to the children who attend the primary school as well as those from the local area.
The centre is based in the Po Leung Kuk Dr Jimmy Wong Ch-ho Tin Sum Valley Primary school in Tai Wai. Tai Wai was selected on this occasion since this is an area known for poverty and deprivationTai Wai is a town on the outskirts of Shatin with an estimated population of almost 76,000 people in the 6 public housing estates. Among the adult population, approximately 22 % have been educated no further than primary school, with some having only pre-primary education. A further 15.5 % have completed only lower secondary level. Almost 25 % have a monthly household income of less than HK $10,000 per month. Approximately 8 % of the households are single-parent families and approximately 6 % of the population need to claim CSSA(Social Security) Benefits.
Office space within the school was created and refurbished, and 4 classrooms were redesigned by the architectural firm, AEDAS, with renovation work taking place over the Christmas holidays to provide a bright, dynamic learning environment. Classes are provided for students from primary 1 to primary 6. Half of the student body of the Education Services Centre comes from the school itself, the other half being referred by the Social Welfare Dept and local schools as children families who could benefit from this service. At capacity the centre will provide lessons for 144 students whose families would be unable to afford such extra tuition and may not have the educational background to provide that support themselves.
The curriculum is based on the school English textbook to provide support and revision for students. Grammar points are covered under another theme; to re-teach lessons to students who didn’t catch them the first time, to allow students to revise what they learned in class while introducing new vocabulary and to provide the opportunity to extend their learning and skills as communicators.
Classes are fun and interactive. Students play a lot of games, take part in role-plays, engage in craft and food making – class time is enjoyable. Carmen Leung, the only girl in the P 4 class for a while, said that while it was difficult to understand the classes at the beginning because she had only arrived in Hong Kong a couple of years before, she now feels so happy and confident to speak in class.
Parental feedback has been positive too. Carmen’s mum reinforced this when she stated how happy she was with Carmen’s improved school results, and how much Carmen enjoyed the classroom environment at the ESC. Mr Cheng similarly said that his son Jacky had an obvious improvement in his academic results and that they were very happy.
Sandy, the upper primary teaching assistant, described how Lucy, P6, had given a gift to each of the teachers, the storyteller, the English teacher and herself and said “Thanks very much for the teaching. I have learned a lot, especially through the games…and I remember more vocabulary.”
Initially, students received 2 one-hour English classes each week as well as one hour of Storytelling. However in the new academic year, starting in September 2012, students will receive 3 hours of English, through 2 one and a half hour classes, as well as one hour of Storytelling and one hour of Putonghua.
The whole ESC team looks forward to increasing the language and confidence levels and seeing their students learn and develop as happy, outgoing children.