19 September 2019
Chau Hau-fung, principal of CUHKFAA Chan Chun Ha Secondary School, says the key to success is determination and persistence. Photo: HKEJ
Chau Hau-fung, principal of CUHKFAA Chan Chun Ha Secondary School, says the key to success is determination and persistence. Photo: HKEJ

School principal finds source of Hong Kong’s strength

Established by the Education Foundation of the Federation of Alumni Associations of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2000, CUHKFAA Chan Chun Ha Secondary School is the second middle school that shares strong ties to the prestigious university.

Under the scheme of “Our First Encounter with CUHK Professors”, Chan Chun Ha students can enjoy a cozy breakfast, and more importantly, an exclusive opportunity to interact with renowned scholars and researchers.

Principal Chau Hau-fung said they are also making plans for a banquet so that more students can join the program.

“We used to tie up with CUHKFAA Thomas Cheung School, and parents joked that their children could study from primary all the way to CUHK without ever leaving Sha Tin,” Chau recalled.

Right now the institution gets half of its students from Sha Tin and the other half from other districts.

In order for newcomers to get used to a more independent middle school lifestyle, secondary one students are made to go on a four-day camping. But instead of doing it in a country park, groups of students take turns to stay on the campus from October.

“We make use of the meeting room and staff common room and provide students with sleeping bags and blankets to stay over,” explained Chau, who believes it is a good way on instilling in students a sense of affiliation with the school.

Students get a taste of life in a boarding school. They attend lessons as usual during the day, and take a break from their electronic devices in order to prepare their own supper in the evening under the guidance of social workers.

Despite the short duration of the training program, its effect on students is unmistakeable. Parents find their children more diligent and helpful when it comes to doing domestic chores at home.

As an educator for 33 years, Chau observes that the new generation of students has more diversified prospects upon graduation.

Most of the graduates pursue their tertiary education in Hong Kong while some study abroad. Nevertheless, the key to success, in the principal’s opinion, is always determination and persistence.

Chau cited alumnus Yimk Yim ho-kei as an example. Yim was named second runner-up in the singing contest organized by Television Broadcasts’ The Voice (Series 4).

“Yim’s dream is to become a singer, and he has been working hard to reach that goal. We are glad to see him on the way up,” Chau said.

Chau has always wanted to become an educator. As a CUHK history major graduate, he preferred teaching to academic research.

Being a sports enthusiast, he said interacting with youngsters through various ball games keeps him young and energetic. Sports also allows him to gain a deeper insight into his students than could be observed inside the classroom.

“You can get the best shot at counseling while playing with them,” said Chau.

What he considers as his most memorable and perhaps most challenging experience as a principal was the outbreak of SARS during his third year in school.

Classes were suspended, and the teaching staff brainstormed on how to make students continue with their studies at home. “We launched our online classroom so that students could attend live lessons at home though the internet,” Chau said.

Compared with the SARS crisis, when Hong Kong people were caught in the grip of a yet unidentified deadly disease, the difficulties that Hong Kong faces today are minimal, Chau said.

Unity has been the city’s greatest strength in overcoming adversities, he said. Hong Kong people should join hands to solve the city’s social problems.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov. 23.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version中文版]

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Chau enjoys interactions with students, whose passion and humor can be reinvigorating. Photo: HKEJ

The principal helps a young student with her scout uniform before an oath-taking ceremony. He says doing exercises with youngsters keeps him energetic. Photo: HKEJ

Chau joins other school principals in a tour of the Legislative Council. Photo: HKEJ

Writer of the Hong Kong Economic Journal