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給非華語生更好的中文教育

2021/5/5 — 21:57

少數族裔學生上中文課(香港電台影片截圖)

少數族裔學生上中文課(香港電台影片截圖)

教育是全民基本權利,不再如以往般只屬少數的特許待遇,這一點相信沒有爭議。但論到人人是否有同等機會接受優質教育,則仍眾說紛紜。

聯合國把「優質教育」定為第四位可持續發展目標,在 17 項目標中僅低於「無貧窮」、「零饑餓」和「良好健康與福祉」,足以證明教育在社會發展擔當關鍵的角色。根據這目標,一個可持續發展的社會應確保包容和公平的優質教育,讓全民終身享有學習機會。

香港在確保兒童享有接受教育的權利方面所下的功夫,有目共睹。免費教育政策下,6 歲至 15 歲的兒童必須入學。對於大多數學童而言,接受高質素教育似乎是理所當然的,但若套用在少數族裔兒童身上,結論就沒有那麼明確了。他們面對的主要難題是如何學好中文,需要的並不只是勉強應付日常生活的簡單會話水平,而是要達到更高的中文讀寫程度,好讓他們順利渡過求學、進修和求職的階段。

廣告

審計署日前就為非華語學生提供的教育支援措施所發表的審計報告,當中不少關注點,與平機會於 2019 年公佈的《人人學得好》報告非常一致。為達到人人均享有機會學好中文這個目標,各方必需要承認,教授非華語生以第二甚或第三語言學習中文,與以母語教授中文,是兩套截然不同的教學方法,當中牽涉不同的技能和工具,所需時間亦不盡相同。針對這點,平機會的報告中建議優先處理堵塞現有學習系統上的漏洞,為非華語學生提供一個以中文作為第二語言的整全中文課程,並需強化師資培訓的需要,採取措施讓所有學校都有教師接受過第二語言教學的培訓。

有別於平機會的報告,審計報告的重點自然是政府在支援非華語生的財務運用是否恰當,但不謀而合的是,兩者都關注教師能力的提升。審計報告強調需要考慮訂定專業發展要求,並加強協助學校檢視提升教師能力的需要;在平機會的報告中,我們建議政府應參考現時向有特殊教育需要學生的教師提供的培訓支援及要求,營造誘因鼓勵教師報讀教授非華語學生的在職專業培訓,和推動學校推薦教師參加該等課程。這一點似乎是不同領域的檢視中一致的要求。

廣告

非華語學生入讀主流學校的數目一直穩步上升,少數族裔的勞動人口參與率亦持續增長。語言學習,特別是中文學習,正正是讓他們與主流社群公平競爭的先決條件。若他們在學習中文的障礙不獲處理,平等機會又從何說起?根據審計報告,政府自 2015/16 起,五年間共投放超過 4.5 億用於支援非華語學生的教育上,這絕對是一個可觀的數目,亦充分顯示政府有誠意改善非華語學生的學習環境。可是,平機會和審計署的報告皆反映政府在措施的規劃與落實執行之間似乎有一定落差。我們有必要收窄,甚至消除這落差,並且要從速啟動,因為每一個六年階段,就代表一批學生的中學時光隨之流逝,處理此議題實在是刻不容緩。

無疑,政府採取不少措施協助非華語生學習中文。然而,執行措施和提供資源並不代表成功達標,更重要是讓大眾看到實質成果。我認為有迫切需要仔細檢討現行措施,在必要時重整資源,若發現措施成效不彰,更應重新作出規劃,切勿因循。說到底,交出一份亮麗的成績表,勝過千言萬語。在我與少數族裔社群的恆常接觸中,不斷聽到非華語生家長希望子女學好中文,從而掌握未來的心聲。要回應他們這個絕不過份的願望,全賴教育支援政策得到適當的調整。

在目前嚴峻的經濟前景,我們更應善用既有資源,確保未來發展,而人才正正是這個地方最寶貴的資源。若基於規劃上的不足,導致一群在香港土生土長的非華裔青年未能有機會充分裝備自己為香港作出貢獻,將會是對社會資源的極大浪費,亦對少數族裔學生不公。現時是修補制度漏洞的適當時機,這不單是執行一件正確的事,亦是為香港的未來作出一項重要的投資。


Better use of education resources for non-Chinese students called for

Education stopped being a luxury and became a basic need a long time ago.  However, whether that education is equal in terms of quality and access is a moot point.

The fact that the United Nations lists Quality Education as Goal #4 among 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, coming right after poverty, hunger and health, is proof of the criticality of this subject.  The stated goal is to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

Hong Kong does a good job of ensuring education for all children.   Education in Hong Kong is free, and school is compulsory from age 6 to 15.  While the question of having access to quality education in Hong Kong is not in debate for most children, the issue is not as clear cut when it comes to the ethnic minorities (EMs). The complication is owing to the requirement of knowing Chinese, not just to get by in Hong Kong, but in order to go through schooling, higher education and finally secure a job.

The recent Audit Commission’s report on Education Support for non-Chinese-speaking Students spotlights certain problem areas that echo concerns raised by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) often and most recently in our 2019 report titled Closing the Gap.  The first step is to acknowledge that teaching a language to a second- or third-language learner is vastly different from teaching a native speaker or someone for whom it is the mother-tongue. The skills and materials required are different as is the time-scale.  The EOC report strongly recommends plugging the gaps in the existing system in order to have in place a full-fledged Chinese-as-a-second-language curriculum. Among the many recommendations it made, the EOC report also called for strengthening the teacher training program and introduce measures so that all schools would have teachers trained to teach Chinese-as-a-second-language.

The Audit report is clearly focused on the utilisation of funds that is specifically allocated for support measures for non-Chinese speaking students, one of which is capacity building for teachers.  While the EOC’s focus is more on the implementation and impact of the measures, we are aligned with the Audit Commission’s points on the need for more teachers to undergo professional development training to serve non-Chinese students better. The EOC report suggested incentivising teachers to take up in-service professional training and for schools to help facilitate this.

The non-Chinese student numbers in Hong Kong is steadily growing and we are also seeing an increase in the labour force participation rate of the racial minorities.  In order to give them a level playing field, the issue of language acquisition has to be dealt with fair and square.  I would like to point out that it is not for want of funding. The government has allocated $456.3 million in the period from 2015/16 to 2019/20 for education support measures for NCS students according to the Audit Commission’s report.  However, there appears to be a gap between planning and implementation. We need to seal that gap and it has to be done quickly.  We have to be mindful that every six years lost is one generation of students entering and exiting secondary school.

It might be argued that several efforts have been made and measures put in place to take care of the Chinese learning needs of NCS students.  However, unless one sees the results of these efforts, it is hard to judge if simply having the measure or expending resources on it is proof of success. I would urge that it is prudent to evaluate existing efforts, re-allocate resources if needed, do away with measures that are not working and go back to the drawing board if necessary. In the end, what matters is the outcome.  From what we are hearing from non-Chinese parents who wish for their child to have Chinese language skills in order to ensure a better future in Hong Kong, a course-correction may be called for.

Hong Kong has to look at its resources to future-proof itself.  Its people are its most valuable resource. Having this home grown talent of non-Chinese youngsters who call Hong Kong home, and yet leaving them inadequately skilled to serve its society is poor planning to say the least and a waste of resources.  It is also not fair for the students.  It is time to fix this gaping hole in our education system, not simply because it is the right thing to do, but because it is an investment into Hong Kong’s future.

發表意見