Is home-schooling a realistic option in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong Education Comment

Is home-schooling a realistic option in Hong Kong?

By Danny Harrington, Founder, ITS Education Asia

Blog Photos

 

First of all let’s deal with the legal side because there is a general urban myth that home-schooling is illegal in Hong Kong. Not true. There have been cases where home-schoolers have been dealt with by the law but often the context has been missed out once these stories hit the media. In response to a question from Dennis Kwok to Legco back in 2015, EDB stated unequivocally:

“While we [EDB} would not as a rule disallow home-schooling, for the interest of the children, we would examine it case by case taking into account relevant factors on whether the family is likely to be able to provide children with all-round education..… Parents who wish to home-school can write or email to the EDB seeking an assessment.”[1]

So there you go. Home-schooling is allowed. There is a further grey area which is the extent to which expat children are considered to fall under the compulsory school-age laws. The current situation seems to be that expat children are treated much more leniently, particularly those of expats on temporary work-visas. You are always best talking to EDB though.

There are a number of reasons why expat parents may consider home-schooling as their best option in Hong Kong. There is the question of school place availability. It is incredibly difficult to access local schools as the competition for places from local families is so high and there are huge concerns about impact on education of being thrown into a completely different school language and cultural environment. Most expats look therefore to the international school system but there are limited places, dependent on year group, and quite a variety of schools some of which are more popular than others.

Recently, we have also seen more and more expat children with SEN [often certified from the home country] finding it nigh on impossible to secure an appropriate school place. There is plenty of controversy over the provision of SEN in English-medium schools at the moment and for many parents, while the argument rages, they simply have to do something about educating their child and so home-schooling is often the most immediate solution.

The other major factor is cost. An international family coming to Hong Kong these days will usually want their children to experience the opportunity as well. But we mustn’t forget that “international school” in Hong Kong means independent or private school anywhere else and of course the costs are comparable. At USD20,000/child/year up [and as much as USD40,000++] there aren’t all that many families that can find the spare cash to educate one, let alone two or three, children. Home schooling by comparison can be done very cheaply indeed for younger kids and even for children in exam years, such as IGCSE and A-level, getting support online both in terms of materials and expert teachers through live online classrooms doesn’t really need to exceed about USD5000/child/year although deluxe options could take this up to more like USD15,000/child/year. The beauty of the UK IGCSE and A-level is that you can take the exams as a private candidate at times of your own choosing, unlike school GPAs and the IB which can only be taken in mainstream schools.

The key questions are:

To what extent can you as a parent/family provide rich, varied, relevant and stimulating learning?

To what extent should you engage experts to supplement your efforts and your child’s self-learning?

What outcomes do you want for your child, such as the next step, and does that require formal qualifications?

How will you provide for your child’s social development without the ready-made community of a school?

There are a number of home-schooler support groups on Hong Kong and they are easy to find and access through platforms such as MeetUp. In this way you can both network to get the best academic process in place and to deal with the socialising issue. There are at least 33 families currently registered with the EDB for home-schooling but probably upwards of 120 families actually home-schooling and they are putting together an ever-improving support framework.

Home-schooling: it’s not easy, but it’s not illegal and it could just be what you’ve been looking for.

ITS Education Asia is a fully accredited Edexcel centre providing courses, tutorial support and examinations in UK IGCSE and IAL.

 
                [1]http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201410/15/P201410150219.htm

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://www.itseducation.asia/blog/">
Twitter
SHARE
LINKEDIN

IGCSE and A-levels in January 2018

Hong Kong Education Comment

by Ruth Puentispena, Exams officer, ITS Education Asia

The winter exam session held by Edexcel in January each year offers a wide range of international qualifications at IGCSE and IAL, allowing students to tailor fit their academic goals in preparation for university and the future. A trend in the exam candidates that sit every January shows that these students usually get a head start on their qualifications. IGCSE Candidates have a wide range of core subjects including Math, Science and English to choose from should they decide to sit their exams early. International A-level Candidates also take this opportunity to divide their work load by sitting some units in this exam session. This is particularly advantageous for Math students as most additional units are available in this exam session as well.

The IGCSE exam period for January 2018 is from January 8 to January 25, while the IAL exam period goes from January 8 to January 29. Given that this is a shorter period than the summer exam session, students are able to focus more on doing well in each exam as they can maximize preparations for these during their Christmas/winter break. An unspoken rule among parents is that they often use the winter exam session as practice for the summer exams by having their children sit their exams at ITS in preparation for the IGCSE exams held in June at their child’s school. This has almost always been to a child’s advantage. Should you wish to enrol your child at ITS for January exams, please note that we are now in triple late fees – you can enrol at any time up to the day of the exam.

You may email [email protected] should you need the relevant forms or would like to be added to the June alerts list – enrolments will open in March. If you would like more information regarding tuition in preparation for IAL and IGCSE subjects, please feel free to email us at [email protected].

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://www.itseducation.asia/blog/">
Twitter
SHARE
LINKEDIN

Robot automation will ‘take 800 million jobs by 2030’ – report

Blogroll Comment

By Gary Hadler

Robot automation will 'take 800 million jobs by 2030 - report

The article http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42170100 is a worrisome prediction for the workforce situation that people will face in the near future.  2030 is only 12 years away which means this is the ‘predicted’ situation that many of those starting schooling now will face when they enter the labour force.  Possibly even more worrying is that it suggests that many jobs people now have will be disappearing and thus people in those occupations will face structural unemployment.

The figure of 800 million workers globally losing their jobs is enough to send shivers down one’s spine.  This suggests that everyone will feel the impact of the changes in the labour market.  This will directly or indirectly affect all of us in some manner.  The prediction that 1 in 3 people in the developed world will see their current jobs disappear by this time is dramatic.  Even if this article is overstating the scope and/or speed of these changes it would suggest trying to ignore such a trend is both foolish and dangerous.

The article certainly implies that consideration should be given when planning one’s career or choosing which industry to work in thought should be given to the effects automation/robots will have on the long term prospects for those jobs.

It is not that surprising that this trend is speeding up given the very high wages that are now being required in the developed world.  The article points out it is the developed world which will suffer the brunt of the job losses.  Businesses will increasingly seek to replace expensive unit labour costs with automation.  As Artificial Intelligence (AI) improves then humans become less necessary in delivering a service.  This related article ( Intelligent Machines: The jobs robots will steal first   http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33327659 even suggests occupations such as doctors will see the demand fall as AI can do a better, quicker, cheaper job of identifying diseases and recommending medication than individual doctors do.  The machine will always have access to the latest data and the AI will improve with the learning that comes over time.

I know from a personal point of view as a business owner there is constant pressure to reduce costs and improve efficiency.  This leads to automation and outsourcing where possible to lower labour cost markets.  A business has no choice as the need to stay competitive requires this.  This is then combined with improved service.  An example would be an automated taxi driver that never gets lost and can speak every language.  Or an automated diagnostic machine that then very cheaply diagnoses many common ailments and prescribes suitable medication.

We all have seen examples of this happening in our lifetimes.  The first big noticeable area in my lifetime was the ATM replacing the need for many bank tellers.  In Hong Kong the octopus system has meant ticket sellers at public transport locations are now very few where they used to be many.  Bar code scanners have sped up checkouts and there are now numerous locations where people can auto scan their own shopping without the need for checkout operators.  Smart finger print scanners or facial recognition software have been reducing the amount of immigration counters needed at airports.

It is true that these technologies do create new jobs but not in the volume that the old ones are to disappear.  This has far reaching consequences for all of us.  Young people should consider the effect of these technological changes when considering their education choices and career options.  Everyone needs to do what ever they can to make themselves less vulnerable to sudden job loss due to technology.

The future is possibly a scary place for many who may see this unemployment hit them at some time soon in their working lives.

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://www.itseducation.asia/blog/">
Twitter
SHARE
LINKEDIN

The End of Australia’s car-making industry

Blogroll Comments Off on The End of Australia’s car-making industry

The End of Australia’s car-making industry (1)

I just finished reading this article (The end of Australia’s car-making industry http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-41675196 ) and thought it was a very good time to comment on some of the reasons for this decline and the problems resulting for the Australian economy.  As an Australian I grew up in a world of fierce rivalry between those who supported “Holden” and those who were pro “Ford” in relation to their favorite cars.  Everyone of my class mates (or at least as far as I can remember) had an opinion on which was better.  Everyone wanted to get one of these cars as soon as they came of age.  At this time in my life it was unthinkable to believe that the car manufacturers in Australia would not survive.  There was a belief that Australian cars were the best in the world for Australia.  Australians were fiercely proud of the car manufacturing industry.  So what went wrong?

As discussed in the article the trade protectionism was, to a large extent what allowed these car manufactures to develop in Australia in the first place.  The high tariff barriers made these Australian made cars cheaper than those imported ones.  The movements towards free trade and the decrease in government protectionism resulted in imported cars being cheaper than the locally produced ones.  This however is but one of the reasons for the decline in Australian manufacturing and the Australian car industry.  The effect of the tariff may be illustrated.

graph1

 

As shown above the tariff raises the price of imported cars into Australia from  PWorld to price Ptarriff reducing car imports into Australia and generating tax revenue for the government.  It also results in a loss to society cause by the higher prices and the inefficiencies caused by the tax.

Added to the loss of tariff protection the Australian government also cut off subsidies to the car industry in Australia.  A quote from the Australian Prime mister illustrates this point Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull said a lack of government support was not to blame since the government had provided a total of 7 billion Australian dollars ($5.5 billion) in subsidies to the industry since 2001.” These subsides have been progressively cut to help try to balance increasing budget deficits and to comply with international trade agreements.

It is also a factor that Australian car production could not achieve the very large economies of scale that were needed to reduce the unit cost of cars.  These economies of scale mean that the very large car producers such as Toyota prefer to produce their cars in a few locations and export to the other markets.  Not have local factories in different countries produce cars for just that country.   It was not just the economies of scale in production that Australia could not achieve but also in Research and Development which meant Australian cars were just becoming rebadged cars that were developed in other locations.  The individually designed Australian specific car virtually disappeared.

The changes in the Australian population also meant that Australia has become an increasingly  country of migrants.  These more recent Australians did not grow up with the “tribal loyalty” to a car company.    This can be illustrated by the diagram below.  Back in 1970 the Australian population was around 12 million.  It is now around 24 million.  The growth for the most part has been from immigration.

graph2

 

 

https://tradingeconomics.com/australia/population

 

The other very significant fact that is often left out when discussing the decline in Australian industries such as car production is the extremely high minimum wage in Australia.  Take a look at this list from 2016 on minimum wages in a select group of counties.

Australia: $17.70 per hour

United Kingdom: $AU14.66 per hour

New Zealand: $AU14.22 per hour

France: $AU14.98 per hour

Germany: $AU13.17 per hour

Canada: $AU10.45 – 13.81 per hour

United States: $AU10.08 per hour

Japan: $AU10.01 per hour

Mexico: $AU5.50 per hour

Czech Republic: $AU3.37 per hour

China: $AU1.68 – 3.93 per hour

Brazil: $AU341.16 per month

India: $AU3.09 – 7.44 per day

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-31/minimum-wage-how-does-australia-compare/7461794

It is very clear that Australia is now one of the most expensive places in the world to employ labour.  Successive governments have increased minimum wages by allocating responsibility to an ‘independent’ tribunal that only is considering the quality of life of the people on the minimum wage.  No (or very little) account is taken of relative wage rates with other countries.  It is not that Australia is more expensive than India to employ labour, it is that Australia is more expensive than virtually everywhere.  This means that it is cheaper to make things almost anywhere in the world other than Australia.

The decline of the Australian car industry has seen considerable loss of jobs.  According to this recent publication from Swinburne University   In 2009-2010 there were approximately 73,772 full-time employees in the motor vehicle industry (which includes the production of other transport equipment as well as parts),

http://www.swinburne.edu.au/news/latest-news/2016/10/collapse-of-australian-car-manufacturing-industry-.php

These job losses can be further expanded when considering the impact on employment in other sectors directly affected by the auto manufacturing industry as this diagram from the previous mentioned article from Swinburne shows

graph3

Source: Valadkhani and Smyth (2016, Table II, p.698-701).

 

Thus it was with sadness that I read the BBC article and decided to write this commentary about it.  I worry for my country of birth as I see the decline in manufacturing as a structural factor that will not be reversed.  Where are the jobs for future Australians going to be created?  The mining and agricultural industries are not generating growing employment numbers.  These industries are largely mature.  It is also the case that most of the jobs in these industries are in rural Australia,  not where most of the population chooses to live. Approximately 90% of Australians live in Urban areas   (https://tradingeconomics.com/australia/urban-population-percent-of-total-wb-data.html ). So it is with difficulty that I can see where the young will find their jobs.

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://www.itseducation.asia/blog/">
Twitter
SHARE
LINKEDIN

These schools want to wipe away gender stereotypes from an early age

Blogroll Comments Off on These schools want to wipe away gender stereotypes from an early age

By: Gary Hadler, Director and Co-Founder ITS Education Asia

These schools want to wipe away gender stereotypes from an early age

I was just reading this article ( http://edition.cnn.com/2017/09/28/health/sweden-gender-neutral-preschool/index.html ) and thought I would share it with those that follow our blog and add some comments on it.

To me the article seems to imply that Gender stereotyping and the associated teaching is what creates the differences between men and women.  Removing gender stereotyping in schools the result will be more well rounded adults.  Problems faced by both girls and boys are the result of the gender stereotyping that has been part of their upbringing.

Personally as an educator I find the premises of the Swedish experiment/model questionable.   Men and women grow up to be very different for the most part in every society in the world.  This has been true throughout history.  In my view, it is not the education model that results in the differences.

Back when I was younger my first extended experience living overseas was when I spent 3 years as a volunteer aid worker in Western Samoa.  One of the things that really struck me about the experience was that a) A lot of what I thought was human nature from my experience growing up in Australia I discovered was actually learnt behaviour for my culture and environment and b) Many things I thought were learnt behavior from my culture and environment were probably human nature.

I tend to think that in an effort to be more ‘politically correct’ educational theorists are getting carried away and are imposing their ‘strange’ views on generations of children to try to prove some pet theory.  The premise of these preschools is that trying to remove gender stereotyping from the education system at a young age will result in better adjusted people.  I personally would like to know what they are basing this assumption on.

It may be the case that the opposite is true.  It may be the case that children growing up in this model will simply be more confused about their identity and place within a general community.  The idea that not calling a young child boy or girl but ‘hen’ is gender neutral seems pretty silly to me.  After all hen is a female chicken.

There is also the reality that when outside the school environment these young children are going to be back in society where gender stereotyping is common.

To me the question education models need to be addressing is discrimination and equity not simply trying to promote their own views on how to resolve problems.  I would not support this model of confusing very young children about their gender.  Equality and openness about all issues is what I believe education models should be teaching.

I would welcome others’  thoughts and comments on this topic.

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
http://www.itseducation.asia/blog/">
Twitter
SHARE
LINKEDIN

« Previous Entries