Inspiring young people who have overcome enormous odds

November 23, 2018 10:40
Chow Man-hin receives an award under the “Good Students, Good Teachers” Commendation Scheme of the Szeto Wah Education Fund. Photo: Facebook

Meet Chow Man-hin. Now a secondary-six student at the Pak Kau College in Tin Shui Wai, Chow used to be the typical misbehaving and difficult student every teacher wants to avoid.

Years ago, Chow disliked going to school, was prone to violence, and would often get into trouble.

He was once seriously addicted to video games, and was sent to a boarding school. At one point, he appeared to have completely lost his direction in life.

However, things began to change during his third form in school, when his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Before he died, he told his son that he would very much want him to go to college.

At that time Chow’s academic performance was way below the basic university admission requirements.

Then one day, Chow went through his father’s diary by chance, and found that, for the first time, he was actually very much into poetry and literature when he was still alive.

That discovery turned out to be an awakening for Chow, who, inspired by his father’s diary, began to develop a profound interest in Chinese culture and poetry recitation.

Today, Chow has already come a long way and is no longer a troublemaker in the classroom. Instead, he has won numerous awards in poetry reading competitions. One can say that he has found his passion in life.

He is now taking his responsibilities in school seriously as he wants to realize his late father’s dream of him going to college.

Unlike Chow, Ng King-tong is a quiet and unassuming kid.

Ng used to study in a mainstream secondary school. But fell victim to intense bullying by schoolmates, and was later referred to a special needs school, where he came across teachers who took good care of him. Ng also found his favorite sport: snowshoeing.

And at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games, Ng represented Hong Kong and won the gold medal in the 200-meter snowshoe race, the first ever medal won by any Hong Kong athlete in the tournament.

Both Chow and Ng are students who have chosen to persevere in the face of adversity.

Their hard work and untiring efforts have finally paid off: they are both winners of this year’s “Good Students, Good Teachers” Commendation Scheme of the Szeto Wah Education Fund.

The late Szeto Wah was a civilian educator who firmly believed that all kids in society, regardless of their background, should be entitled to decent education.

During his lifetime, Szeto didn’t expect his students to have remarkably good grades. Instead, he wanted them to be down-to-earth, to work hard and become a useful member of society.

Isn’t that the fundamental purpose of education?

In a bid to pass on Szeto’s principles and faith in education to the next generation, the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (HKPTU) set up the Szeto Wah Education Fund in 2011, which seeks to pay tribute to inspiring students and teachers through an annual awards presentation.

The “Good Students, Good Teachers” Commendation Scheme is now in its seventh year.

And both Chow Man-hin and Ng King-tong, like their 53 predecessors in the past six years, are living examples of how young people, who mostly either come from underprivileged families or suffer from physical or mental disabilities, have managed to overcome enormous odds and achieve their goals in life through hard work and their “never give up” attitude.

It is my sincere hope that our society can show more appreciation for the efforts and perseverance of these students, and also for the selfless devotion and inspiring guidance of their teachers.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 21

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Legislative Council member from the education sector