by Chapman Chen
Recently, the Hong Kong Education Bureau has imposed TSA (Territory-wide System Assessment) on primary three students. Many local parents, deeming this measure to be detrimental to their children’s mental and physical health, have strongly objected to it, even planning a large-scale class-boycott. In reality, apart from formal school education and international school, there is a third option for local parents, and that is home schooling. Madame Chantal, a permanent resident of Hong Kong, has been giving his son Laith home schooling for seventeen years. Laith is now an extensively reading, cheerful and strong young man. Chantal comes from Canada, and has been living in Hong Kong for more than 15 years. She is a healer by occupation.
Back in 2001, local scholar, Professor Simon Chau, has translated and published John Holt’s book on home education, Teach your Own. In the translation, Professor Chau emphasizes that the educational system of Hong Kong stifles children’s mind and body, and advocates introduction of home schooling into Hong Kong. However, as he thought that it was illegal not to send children to school in Hong Kong, Chau sent his own children to an international school in Hong Kong, which he deemed less destructive than ordinary local schools. According to Chantal, it turns out that Hong Kong Law does not say that it is illegal for parents not to send their children to school; only failure to provide one’s children with proper education is against the law.
Chantal reveals that she has adopted home schooling because her son Laith likes to learn via touching, smelling, seeing, and asking questions, and is unlikely to fit in with ordinary schools in Hong Kong. Furthermore, Chantal cannot afford the school fee of international schools. Many people think that parents who practise home schooling have to be highly education people. Chantal points out that this is a myth. Parents who practise home schooling only have to love learning and teaching.
Chantal has joined The Hong Kong Homeschool Meetup Group (http://www.meetup.com/hongkong-homeschool/)）, which has around 120 families as registered member, and 60 families as active members, including less than ten local Chinese families. The parents therein often exchange insights with each other and their kids can play together, enjoying social life.
When Laith was nine years old, the Education Bureau, having received a complaint, sent some officer to visit Chantal and Laith. Chantal calmly receive the officer. In order to prove that Laith had received proper education, Chantal produced to the officer transcripts issued by online education programs, exercise books, products of projects done by Laith, and samples of homework of each subject.
The education officer asked Chantal whether he could talk to Laith alone. To his surprise, Chantal, without any hesitation, said yes. And Laith answered the officer’s questions fluently and intelligently, expressing himself capably. The officer asked him whether he wanted to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or an accountant when he grew up. Again to the officer’s surprise, the boy said he wanted to be a happy person! Since then, the education authorities had sent someone to interview Laith and Chantal every six months until Laith was fifteen.
Laith is very sociable, with a lot of expatriate and local friends of his age. Every week, he would take part in various healthy activities, like dramatic performance, visit to the museum, reading, cleaning up beaches, feeding people of low income and helping out disabled kids, hiking and ice skating with friends.
Another home schooling group in Hong Kong is Homeschooling Support（https://www.facebook.com/homeschool1/?fref=ts）