27 October 2016
Rainbow Primary students are encouraged to use what they learn in school to find creative solutions for everyday problems.  Photo: HKEJ
Rainbow Primary students are encouraged to use what they learn in school to find creative solutions for everyday problems. Photo: HKEJ

A principal shows how tech can change the kids’ future

Chu Tsz-wing, 35, grew up in the traditional style of education—lots of homework, lots of copying—but this is not the kind of learning he wants for his two-year-old kid and other students at Baptist Rainbow Primary School.

Education is a very conservative sector in Hong Kong; most schools hate changes.

“If a teacher conducts classes in the same way every year, even after 20 years of teaching, effectively, there is only one year of teaching experience,” Chu told the Hong Kong Economic Journal Monthly.

“There is a study that compares how conservative teachers are across the world, and Hong Kong ranks number two, right after an Islamic country.”

Even if a teacher wants to experiment with new approaches, if the school says no, it will be hard to break the status quo.

To implement his ideas, Chu boldly applied to be the principal of Baptist Rainbow Primary School three years ago, when the school could barely recruit any new students and was on the verge of closure.

Chu got the job and the school is now getting 100 primary one students a year, following a series of reforms.

“Mindset” is the biggest hurdle, Chu said.

“To convince the teachers and the parents, it takes a lot of time and energy.”

Embracing technology, Rainbow Primary’s teachers now communicate with parents only through apps. Heavy school bags have given way to tablets.

The traditional lecture approach has been largely replaced by video clips that teachers shot and prepared themselves.

Apps writing and computer science are now part of the curriculum. Last year, the school installed a 3D printer. There is also a startup class, with entrepreneurs volunteering as teachers.

Parents are typically against video games, but Chu turned that into an educational tool.

“We would teach the kids how to create gaming programs themselves,” he said. “It’s actually a problem solving process.” 

Chu believes that technology wil shape the future of education.  “Technology is going to replace a lot of old things,” he said. “It’s like the industrial revolution, we can’t turn the clock back.”

School resources are limited with most of the students coming from grassroots families.

But tech-based education needs money, so Chu sought sponsorship from the business sector.

Rainbow Primary’s students only pay about HK$1,000 in 12 monthly installments for a tablet, as some computer firms are willing to make up for the difference and book it as part of their promotion expenses.

Chu hopes if one day, every one of us can come up with innovative ideas and work together to solve problems, it will be a much better world.

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EJ Insight writer

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