School money spent wisely

| Siu Sai-wo 16 May 2018

Artist Ma Sing-yuen staged an ink painting show at the Commercial Press bookstore in Mira Place, and invited friends and associates to attend its opening.

At the event, I saw the publisher's business manager, Janice Yip, and she recalled the first project with Ma.

It was a book illustrated by the famed caricaturist on the 12 classic pieces in the Diploma of Secondary Education Examination Chinese language curriculum. They also held a related function with the Sing Tao group and invited him to attend.

The book - Have fun learning classic Chinese literature - was well-received by students, and the Commercial Press further collaborated with Ma in a follow-up series on other famous classic Chinese literature pieces.

I also bumped into Yeung Wing-hon, principal of Confucius Hall Secondary School, an English school under the direct-subsidy scheme.

I asked him about an earlier survey which found Confucius Hall to have one of the lowest fiscal reserves among direct-subsidy schools.

Yeung told me it is because they have been sponsoring students to go on overseas exchange trips in the past few years, and the program has proved to be very helpful.

Benefits to students include raising their confidence level, especially in language learning. Also, more of the school's students are getting into university.

Yeung said during the five years he has been principal, he has endeavored to steer teaching away from the rote-learning mode, and to encourage students to go out and see the world.

Some outstanding students from grassroots families have been sponsored on these trips for more than once. The substantial expenses of these programs have drawn down the school's reserves, but Yeung believes it was resources well spent.

Some people thought the term "direct subsidy" is synonymous with elitist. Yeung said that is certainly not true for his school, as it takes in a substantial number of grassroots students.

Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily

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