Mother-tongue policy 'boosts HKCEE results'

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Aug 10 13:38:47 UTC 2005

>>From the Hong Kong Standard, cellPadding=0
width=752 align=center border=0>

Mother-tongue policy 'boosts HKCEE results'

Winnie Chong

August 10, 2005

Mother-tongue teaching is the major reason for improvement in English and
overall Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) results,
Education and Manpower Bureau officials said Tuesday. However, as more
students chose to sit for English SyllabusA, which is easier than English
SyllabusB, it is hard to say if students had really improved their
language skills under the mother-tongue policy, one educator said. The
HKCEE results will be released today.

Education and Manpower Bureau principal assistant secretary Lam Fan
Kit-fong said this year's results were better than last year's. The pass
rate for English SyllabusA rose by 3.3 percentage points to 52.2 percent,
while that for English SyllabusB rose from 70.2 percent to 74.8 percent.
There was also a slight improvement in Chinese, from last year's 68.8
percent to 69.9 percent.

Some 52.1 percent students obtained grade E or better in five or more
subjects - including Chinese, English (Syllabus A and B) and Mathematics,
a rise of 0.9 percentage points from last year's 51.2 percent. A total of
119,471 candidates sat for the HKCEE, 65 percent of whom were day school
students. A further 28 percent were private candidates.

About 74,507 students attempted six or more subjects, with 46,765 meeting
the Secondary Six admission requirements. The number of day school
candidates sitting for Syllabus A increased by 25.3 percent, from 22,933
in 2004 to 28,733 this year. The number sitting for Syllabus B dropped
from 50,978 to 48,276.

Lam attributed the overall improvement in results to the government's
mother-tongue teaching policy. ``Learning through one's mother-tongue is
definitely more efficient,'' Lam stressed. Education Convergence
vice-chairman Choi Kwok-kwong said with more students sitting for the
relatively easier English Syllabus A, the so-called higher pass rate would
not be a true indication of the English level attained by the students.

``The biggest concern is whether the overall standard of English has
worsened because of less exposure to the English language,'' Choi said.
This year's Secondary Five students are the third batch affected by the
government's 1998 decision forcing 300 of the 412 public secondary schools
to adopt Chinese as the medium of instruction starting from Secondary

University of Hong Kong faculty of education associate dean Tse Shek-kam
said more students chose to take Syllabus A as it was easier to pass.
``But it is good for students as a pass in English is necessary if they
wish to continue tertiary education,'' Tse said.

winnie.chong at

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list