Officials from the China Liaison Office attended a speech day at a Hong Kong secondary school that is said to be a keen advocate of the controversial policy of teaching in Putonghua. The move has raised concerns among pro-Cantonese groups over public schools’ language policy.
Two officials from the China Liaison Office were invited to attend the ceremony on June 22 at the HK & Kowloon Kaifong Women’s Association Sun Fong Chung College in Tai Po. Director-general Tang Huaping and Coordination Department deputy Liao Xun sat in the front row next to the school’s founder Sun Fong-chung and Under Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung.
Student masters of ceremony spoke in Putonghua.
HK & Kowloon Kaifong Women’s Association Sun Fong Chung College claimed to be “the first aided school in Hong Kong to use Putonghua as the medium of instruction” in its mission statement.
In a proposal written by the school in 2008, which was submitted to the Education Bureau, the school recommended all primary and secondary schools switch to Putonghua as the medium of instruction in teaching Chinese by 2018 and 2028 respectively. It also proposed making Putonghua the official language of Hong Kong.
Pro-Cantonese teaching group Hong Kong Lang Studies said, “The [Under] Secretary for Education was at the same event and he did not do anything about [the presence of China Liaison Office in schools]. Hong Kong’s education autonomy has been violated.”
The school’s subsidiary primary school has previously published a clip promoting its effort in pushing for Putonghua teaching.
Hong Kong Lang Studies also found that the primary school has listed “speaking Putonghua to each other” as a quality of being a good student.
An ongoing research conducted by the pro-Cantonese group shows that 71 percent of primary schools and 31 percent of secondary schools in Hong Kong currently teach Chinese in Putonghua.
In June, Professor Tse Shek-kam of HKU’s education faculty conducted a research and found that teaching Chinese in Putonghua may not be correlated to better Chinese language skills.
The Education Bureau stated on its website last year, “There is no solid proof that students learning Chinese in Putonghua would improve their Chinese level. Two research studies show that students who learn Chinese in Putonghua and in Cantonese do not appear to differ in their Chinese language skills. The former group may even have poorer performance.” The statement was later removed.