Prior to her elevation to the principal’s post this September, Hui Wah-ying had been a teacher at the S.K.H. All Saints’ Middle School for about twenty years.
During her long association with the school, Hui never thought of pursuing career opportunities elsewhere.
Ask her why, and she points to the strong bonds she shares with her students and the harmonious climate that prevails at the Mong Kok institution.
Backing up her claims of strong teacher-student relationships, Hui narrates a story that involves a problem student.
“There was once a student who was known for very bad behavior and considered to be a hopeless case. But I approached him, saying that I love him and wouldn’t give up hopes on him.”
Hui, instead of employing traditional ways of handling his misbehavior, offered him an ‘unusual’ punishment.
Whenever the boy did something wrong, Hui would hold his hands in public and do a long walk in the playground. That would make the middle school student cringe in embarrassment and try to avoid such situations.
Touched by the care and attention of Hui, the boy gradually began to change his ways and become a better person.
Showing his gratitude, the boy once sent a birthday cake to the teacher.
Hui says no other profession can match teaching in terms of offering opportunities to mould the youth and help them become good citizens.
Founded in 1951, All Saints’ Middle School is in a neighborhood teeming with entertainment facilities such as cinemas, karaoke bars and game centers. To prevent the students from falling prey to the outside temptations, the school arranges a wide range of extra-curricular activities for its wards.
“Many of our students come from grassroots families in Mong Kok, Sham Shui Po or Tai Kok Tsui, whose parents are often busy earning a living. So, the school takes up responsibility by providing the children with after-school activities,” says Hui.
Starting from this school year, the school has an expatriate as coach of its basketball team. That will ensure that students, while learning basketball, can also improve their English language skills by interacting with the coach.
As a Business Administration major, Hui also considers it important to equip students with personal finance management strategies. Hence, the school is participating in a Child Development Fund (CDF) pilot project since 2013.
“This is a three-year program in which 50 participants have to save HK$200 every month in the first two years. When they achieve the sum (HK$4,800), the fund will subsidize each student with another HK$4,800, while the government will give another HK$3,000. The total saving amount for each of them becomes HK$12,600, which is a considerable sum for secondary schoolchildren.”
Each student is assigned a mentor who will guide them throughout the program by helping them set personal plans.
The voluntary mentors include school alumni and retired teachers, as well as attendees of the All Saints’ Cathedral. The mentors not only share their life experiences, they also give free tutorials for those in need.
Hui says the school is grateful for the support and dedication of the volunteers.
“All participants, except one who has moved out of Hong Kong, have achieved the target sum. From December, they will work with their mentors on how to make good use of their money,” she said.
The students won’t be allowed to take cash in a lump sum. The will prevent the youngsters from blowing up the money on unnecessary things.
Hui says guidance will be provided so that the students will use the funds wisely and develop some skills.
“For instance, if one wants to learn photography, he can utilize the money to buy the necessary equipment or to enroll in some courses.”
Being one of the last two Caput schools in Hong Kong, All Saints’ Middle School has been given an offer to switch to Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) institution.
Caput institutions refer to non-profit-making private secondary schools that receive government subsidy. The entities are not allowed to charge fees in excess of those in the government/aided schools.
Under the DSS, schools are allowed to have greater flexibility in various areas including resources deployment, curriculum design and student admission.
Hui said her school would prefer to be an aided school as that would mean lesser tuition fee burden on grassroots families.
Although staying as a Caput school would mean some pressures with regard to student intake, Hui is upbeat about her school’s future.
“We are clear about our mission, and our teachers perform their duties with full dedication. With the support of the sponsoring body and the school council, I am confident I can take the institution further ahead.”
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov. 16.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
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