Chan dreams of Putonghua schools medium

Local | Carine Chow 10 Jun 2021

Carine Chow

All schools in Hong Kong should teach primarily in Putonghua, says billionaire Ronnie Chan Chi-chung, who hopes the SAR's next generation can "dream the China dream" in the mainland's official language.

Speaking at a forum on development in Shanghai and Hong Kong, the chairman of Hang Lung Group said the mainland would not have a problem developing without Hong Kong, and that Hongkongers must ask themselves who needs the other more.

"Cantonese should be preserved like any other dialect, but for the sake of Hong Kong's economic future, we must speak Putonghua better," Chan said.

Chan said Hong Kong had received the best opportunities with the introduction of the national security law, and it was time for people to become patriotic.

"Hong Kong should no longer look at issues from its own perspective or stay self-centered. This is because all the opportunities are in the mainland."

In response to Chan's suggestion, the vice president of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, Tin Fong-chak, said changing the teaching language to Putonghua would stall students' learning effectiveness.

"Changing the teaching medium is not like switching channels on the television. When you are using a language that students are not familiar with, they will learn more about the language rather than knowledge of the subject," he said.

Chu Wai-lam of Fung Kai No 1 Primary School in Sheung Shui said it is unnecessary to teach all subjects in Putonghua, as Hong Kong has a "biliterate and trilingual" policy that requires students to learn written English and Chinese as well as spoken English, Cantonese and Putonghua.

"Using Putonghua more frequently does not mean that we have to teach everything in Putonghua. In the end, Cantonese is our mother tongue," Chu said.

He said schools should instead create a better environment for learning the language, such as increasing the number of hours of Putonghua lessons, or having school events that require students to only speak in Putonghua.

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