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Guide to International Schools in Hong Kong

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int_coverYoko Yamato and Sally Course

June 2002, 84pp
ISBN 962-8093-62-2
HK$72 (local)
Published by Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC) & ClassmateAsia


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Looking for information about international schools and kindergartens in Hong Kong? This compact, new-format school guide provides newcomers and local families with the first comprehensive picture of Hong Kong’s booming international education scene and uncovers the reasons for its remarkable growth.

  • international school life in Hong Kong
  • comparison with international education in other locations and the local school system
  • international pre-school sector
  • special needs
  • admission and fees
  • directory of international schools and kindergartens for Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories

For more details:

For volume orders in Hong Kong and Macau:

Vivienne Wong
Publishers Associates Ltd or (852) 2565-0660

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Full Circle: A Life with Hong Kong and China

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fullcircle-colRuth Hayhoe

2004, 276 pp

ISBN: 962-8093-31-2; 978-962-8093-31-1

HK$200 (local), US$32 (overseas)

Published by the Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC) and the Educational Science Publishing House

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A Chinese edition of the book is available. 


Full Circle is the story of a life transformed by long exposure to the peoples and cultures of China and East Asia. The stories of many people in Hong Kong, China and Japan are interwoven into this narrative account, as Ruth Hayhoe shares what it was like to live through a series of major transitions – from the Cultural Revolution in 1967, to Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997.

Ruth Hayhoe left Toronto as a 21 year-old in 1967 and moved to Hong Kong, where she started her career as a teacher in an Anglo-Chinese secondary school for girls. Intending to stay six months, she spent 11 years in Hong Kong, teaching, studying, assisting a number of veteran China missionaries, and falling in love with Chinese people and Chinese culture.

In 1980 she moved to Shanghai and taught the first two cohorts of university students after the end of the Cultural Revolution. She returned to Canada in 1984, having done a PhD in comparative education at the University of London. Five years later, following the Tiananmen tragedy, she was drawn back to China as Cultural Attache in the Canadian Embassy. She continues to visit China where she does research and development work.

In 1997, the year Hong Kong was reunited with China, she became Director of The Hong Kong Institute of Education, a newly established tertiary institution for teachers. Her life came full circle, as she again settled into the city where she had begun her teaching career 30 years earlier.

Ruth Hayhoe is Professor at the Ontario Institute for Students in Education, University of Toronto. She is an award-winning author of several scholarly books about China’s education between China and Western countries. She is a noted specialist in comparative education and a former President of the Comparative and International Education Society. She is also an Associate Member of the Comparative Education Research Centre at the University of Hong Kong.

In Search of an Identity: The Politics of History as a School Subject in Hong Kong, 1960s-2005

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Ed-VickersEdward Vickers

2005, 334pp.

ISBN 10: 962-8093-38-X
ISBN 13: 978-962-8093-38-0
HK$200 (local), US$32 (overseas)
Published by the Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC)

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In most societies the school subject of History reflects and reinforces a sense of collective identity. However, in Hong Kong this has emphatically not been the case. Official and popular ambivalence towards the nation in the shape of the People’s Republic of China, and the sensitivity of Hong Kong’s own political and cultural status, have meant that the question of local identity has until recently been largely sidestepped in school curricula and textbooks. In this ground- breaking study, Edward Vickers sets out to reexamine some of the myths concerning colonialism and schooling under the British, while showing how in postcolonial Hong Kong these myths have been deployed to legitimise a programme of nationalistic re-education. In a new Afterword, he emphasises that it is Hong Kong’s fundamentally undemocratic political context that has thwarted – and continues to thwart – efforts to make history education a vehicle for fostering a liberal, democratic sense of regional and national citizenship.

Since the 1960s, Hong Kong people have developed a strong sense of their own distinctiveness. This thorough study explains why the local school curriculum has failed to reflect this emerging sense of identity. Vickers shows how the pressures of political correctness have constrained curriculum developers, and undermined their attempts to make history education more relevant, stimulating and critical. His book should be read not only by specialists interested in curriculum history, but by all those who are interested in Hong Kong, and the role that education can play in shaping its future.
– Christine Loh – Chief Executive Officer, Civic Exchange, Hong Kong

In Search of an Identity provides a scholarly and superbly readable account of a complex episode in curriculum history in East Asia. As such, it represents a major contribution to curriculum policy studies and to the regional historiography of education and identity formation.
– From the Foreword by Professor Andy Green

This volume makes a substantial contribution to understanding the complexities of curriculum development processes, identity politics, and notions of culture and nationness – not only in Hong Kong, but across the rest of East Asia and beyond.
– Alisa Jones, The China Quarterly

A significant contribution to research in the field of education in general, and to research in comparative curriculum history in particular… the first comprehensive effort to analyse the trajectories of history education in Hong Kong from historical perspectives.
– Hiromitsu Inokuchi and Yoshiko Nozaki, The Asia Pacific Journal of Education

[There is] no other book covering so thoroughly an essential topic for scholars of national identity: the curriculum through which Hong Kong youth have been taught history over the past forty years.
– Gordon Matthews, Asian Anthropology

Edward Vickers is Lecturer in Comparative Education at the Institute of Education, University of London. He is co-editor of History Education and National Identity in East Asia (New York: Routledge, 2005).


Education and Political Transition: Implications of Hong Kong’s Change of Sovereignty

Return to the CERC Studies in Comparative Education.

cerc-03Mark Bray & W.O. Lee

1997, 169pp

ISBN 10: 962-8093-90-8
ISBN 13: 978-962-8093-90-8
HK$100 (local), US$20 (overseas)

Published by Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC)

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Mark Bray and W.O. Lee have co-edited a special number of the journal Comparative Education (Vol.33, No.2, 1997) on the implications for education of Hong Kong’s political transition. The special number will be published in June 1997, i.e. almost exactly at the time of the change of sovereignty. Subsequently it will be re-published in book form in the series ‘CERC Studies in Comparative Education’, thereby making it readily available to individuals and institutions which do not subscribe to the journal.
Abstracts of the contributions to the Special Number are as follows:

Editorial Introduction (Mark Bray & W.O. Lee)
The Editorial Introduction places the special number in the context of broader literatures on (a) education and political transition worldwide, and (b) political transition and social change in Hong Kong. It also highlights the conceptual contributions of the papers that follow, and shows how they can be linked to each other.

Education and Colonial Transition: The Hong Kong Experience in Comparative Perspective (Mark Bray)

While in some respects the nature of Hong Kong’s colonial transition seems unique, several parallels exist with transitions elsewhere. This paper begins by identifying major differences and similarities in the macro-framework. It then turns specifically to the education sector, noting that the parallel operation of multiple education systems within the boundaries of a single country is quite common, and therefore that models already exist for continued plurality of the type that might be envisaged for Hong Kong and the rest of China. Examining changes at various points in time, the paper observes that some reforms were made in Hong Kong’s educational provision well ahead of the commencement of colonial transition, and far in advance of parallel points in the history in other colonies. The paper then turns to specific changes which occurred during the period 1984-97, and to commentary on the further changes that may be expected in the continuing period of transition that commenced in 1997. Analysis of the currents and countercurrents makes Hong Kong an important case to study, both in its own right and as a case to compare and contrast with patterns elsewhere.

Education Policy and the 1997 Factor: The Art of the Possible Interacting with the Dismal Science (Anthony Sweeting)

“The 1997 Factor” has broad and narrow connotations. Its broader sense equates it with concern about Hong Kong’s future. Its narrow sense focuses on attitudes and actions affected by the change of sovereignty over Hong Kong at midnight on 30th June, this year. The present article investigates how both senses have influenced education policy in Hong Kong and, in particular, how resulting policy developments have reflected considerations of politics (the art of the possible) and economics (the dismal science). The article is divided into two main parts. The first, larger section offers a broad historical perspective, demonstrating that concerns about the future of the colony of Hong Kong are recurrent and almost exactly as old as the colony itself. The second section focuses briefly on three case studies of educational issues that have arisen recently from ideas related to the resumption of Chinese sovereignty over Hong Kong.

The Accommodation and Resistance to the Decolonisation, Neocolonisation and

Recolonisation of Higher Education in Hong Kong (Law Wing Wah)
This article identifies the impact of the political transition on the Hong Kong higher education system during the transitional period between 1982 and 1997. The struggles among the departing and incoming sovereign powers and local groups are also examined. The article argues that, during this period, three related colonial transition processes — decolonization, neo-colonization and recolonization — coexisted in Hong Kong higher education within the framework of one country and two systems. These processes further initiated spectra of their acceptance and resistance by the three major actors. On different occasions, the local government and groups played different, or even contradictory, roles: decolonising, neo-colonising or recolonising agents. They selectively participated in the three processes so as to create facilitating conditions for and obstacles to the control of higher education by the incoming ruling power in the post-1997 era.

Church, State and Education: Catholic Education in Hong Kong during the Political Transition (John Kang Tan)

Roman Catholic schools represent an important sector in Hong Kong’s education system, in both number and historical significance. As in many colonies in other periods of history, the Roman Catholic Church, in addition to other Christian churches, had a partnership relationship with the colonial government in the provision of education in Hong Kong. Was there any change in this relationship during the political transition to 1997? Has the prospective return of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China affected Catholic educational policies? This article examines these two questions in relation to the experience of other places in the world, and in relation to the special nature of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong, namely its link with the Vatican and its relations with China where church schools no longer exist.

Language and the Curriculum in Hong Kong: Dilemmas of Triglossia (Bob Adamson & Winnie Auyeung Lai)

As with colonial transitions elsewhere, language patterns in Hong Kong have changed with the return of sovereignty to China. Diglossia (whereby Hong Kong Cantonese and English predominate) is shifting to triglossia, as Putonghua, the official language of the People’s Republic of China, has become increasingly important. This paper focuses on the impact of colonial transition, and particularly the emergence of Putonghua, on the language subjects in the primary and secondary school curricula in Hong Kong. It argues that whilst the rationale for promoting Putonghua is logical, tensions are evident in the school curricula, most notably in two areas. Firstly, the curricula were already heavily biased in favour of language subjects, and secondly, the necessary teaching expertise for Putonghua is not readily available.

The Hong Kong School Curriculum and the Political Transition: Politicisation, Contextualisation and Symbolic Action (Paul Morris & K.K. Chan)

This paper uses a historical perspective to analyse the impact on the school curriculum of the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty. Whilst the transition has relaxed the criteria used by the state to select school knowledge, it has occurred at a time when the selective and allocative role of schooling has become paramount. Consequently, the transition has had a significant impact on the intended curriculum as a result of attempts by the departing colonial government to reform the curriculum. However, these reforms have had a limited impact on the implemented curriculum, which has been more strongly influenced by the emergence of a market in which schools compete for academically more able pupils.

Futuristic Metropolis or Second-Rate Port? Adult Education in Hong Kong before and after 1997 (Roger Boshier)

Despite China’s assurances about ‘one country, two systems’, adult education in Hong Kong is in for some big changes. The author maps the present adult education landscape, reviews research, posits four scenarios concerning the future, and identifies challenges to be faced by adult educators in Hong Kong after 1997. Returning Hong Kong to the bosom of a maoist, marxist-leninist state is not necessarily good news for marxist adult educators. Functionalist orthodoxy will be permitted, but those committed to marxist (critical, emancipatory) approaches to adult education will be in jeopardy because of laws about subversion. Adult education is shaped by the context in which it occurs, and what happens to critical adult educators in Hong Kong after 1997 will signal the extent to which ‘one country, two systems’ is reality or illusion.

Hong Kong’s Change of Sovereignty: School Leader Perceptions of Educational Policy and

School Administration (Clive Dimmock & Allan Walker)
This study captures the thoughts and perceptions of a group of Hong Kong principals on the transfer of sovereignty and its effects on education. The investigation addressed the following guiding research question: What, according to their perceptions, have been, and will be, the effects on education policy and on school-level management and curriculum, of the transfer of sovereignty? A qualitative approach was adopted, using naturalistic methods of inquiry. Nine principals of aided secondary schools were selected for interview according to procedures of purposive sampling. Findings indicate that, faced with uncertainty arising from the change of sovereignty, principals feel confident of managing and coping with situations at the school level in connection with curriculum and management. However, they express concern and greater uncertainty about their ability to manage changes emanating in the broader socio-political educational environment, especially in regard to values and norms and access and opportunity, all of which are likely to impact on their schools.

Education and Colonial Transition in Singapore and Hong Kong: Comparisons and Contrasts (Jason Tan)

As Hong Kong approaches its handover to Chinese sovereignty, it is instructive to compare its experience with that in other former British colonies. This article focuses on how education policies in areas such as medium of instruction and curriculum changed as Singapore moved towards self-government and independence in the 1950s and 1960s. It also compares the changes that took place in Singapore with those currently occurring in Hong Kong. Observations are made about the likelihood of the ‘one country, two systems’ concept working in Hong Kong after 1997.

Education and Society in Hong Kong and Macao: Comparative Perspectives on Continuity and Change

Return to CERC Studies in Comparative Education.

chin-hk-macao-Taiwan-colourMark Bray & Ramsey Koo

2004, 2nd edition (1999, 1st edition) 323 pp

ISBN 10: 962-8093-34-7
ISBN 13: 978-962-8093-34-2

HK$200 (local), US$32 (overseas)

Published by Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC)

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Hong Kong and Macao have much in common. The dominant populations in both territories are Cantonese-speaking Chinese; both are small in area; both are urban societies; both have been colonies of European powers; and both have undergone political transition to reunification with China. Yet in education, for reasons that are analysed in this book, they are very different.

The patterns of similarities and differences in the two territories make a fascinating basis for comparative study. The overarching theme of the book, on continuity and change, is particularly pertinent following the transition of the two societies to the postcolonial era.

This thoroughly-revised and expanded second edition builds on the widely-recognised first edition. The work has been acclaimed as a significant contribution to the broad field of comparative education as well as to study of the specific societies which are its main focus.

Mark Bray is Chair Professor of Comparative Education at the University of Hong Kong. Ramsey Koo is a Senior Lecturer at the Hong Kong Institute of Education. Both have long experience of research on education in Hong Kong and Macao; and both are active in professional societies concerned with comparative education.





















Education in the Market Place: Hong Kong’s International Schools and their Mode of Operation

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Yoko Yamato

2003, 117 pp.

ISBN 10: 962-8093-57-6;
ISBN 13: 978-962-8093-57-1

HK$100 (local), US$16 (overseas)

Published by the Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC)

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Worldwide, international schools have been a neglected focus for research. This is partly because in most countries they serve minority groups and are separate from the mainstream. In Hong Kong, however, international schools form a sizeable sector of growing importance. Most of Hong Kong’s international schools serve local residents as well as foreign nationals.This book presents the first detailed academic study of the sector. It highlights the significance of market forces, and shows how the international schools have responded to changing circumstances. Although Hong Kong is small in area, it hosts a wide diversity of types of international schools. The study thus makes instructive comparisons of systems within the small territory. In the process, the book makes important methodological contributions to the field of comparative education.Yoko Yamato initially studied in Japan and Singapore, and then graduated from the MEd programme in comparative education at the University of Hong Kong. She is a mother of three children, each of whom has studied in different types of international schools in Hong Kong. Her studies of international schools have been recognised as pathbreaking contributions to the field.

Foreword by Mark Bray

Chapter 1. Introduction
1-1: Status and changing roles of international schools in Hong Kong
1-2: Background of the recent trend
1-3: Definition of terms
1-4: Research questions and frame work

Chapter 2. Conceptual Framework
2-1: Education and the market place
2-2: International schools in the world context and Hong Kong
2-3: Education and private cost
2-4: Locating this research in the wider field

Chapter 3. Data Collection
3-1: School visits and data collection as a parent
3-2: Documentary study plus questionnaires
3-3: Interviews of principals
3-4: Limitations of research methods
3-5: Dilemmas as a researcher and a parent

Chapter 4. Findings and Data Analysis
4-1: Local vs. international schools: what are the differences?
4-2: Institutional identification by different aspects
4-3: School fees and private expenditures
4-4: Nationality matters: who are local students?
4-5: Crisis in the international schools sector
4-6: Summary

Chapter 5. Conclusion
5-1: Methodological contributions
5-2: “English” education: a marketable commodity in Hong Kong
5-3: A spin-off of the Mother tongue education policy
5-4: Lesson from the sudden closure of an international school
5-5: The international schools sector: fast moving and fast changing
Note on the author

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Building Alliances: Schools, Parents and Communities in Hong Kong and Singapore

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Maria Manzon

2004, 117 pp.

ISBN 10: 962-8093-36-3
ISBN 13: 978-962-8093-36-6

HK$100 (local), US$16 (overseas)

Published by Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC)

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Governments worldwide are increasingly advocating parental and community partnerships in education. This monograph explores the evolution of parental and community partnerships in Hong Kong and Singapore, and the local and global forces that have shaped those partnerships. It focuses on the work of two government advisory bodies established to spearhead partnership advocacy: the Committee on Home-School Co-operation (CHSC) in Hong Kong, and Community and Parents in Support of Schools (COMPASS) in Singapore. Key policy actors and local academics in the two states were interviewed to gain insiders’ perspectives on the “micro-politics” of educational partnership.Comparative educators, ministries of education, and educational policy makers will gain from this book a penetrating insight into parent-school-community partnership in a pair of Asian contexts, and may find some good practices and lessons.Maria Manzon initially studied in the Philippines and in Italy, and then graduated from the MEd programme in Comparative Education at the University of Hong Kong. She has had almost 10 years of working experience in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, in the fields of finance and education.

What really matters to students in mathematics learning? Comparing lessons in Hong Kong and Singapore

Ida Mok is Associate Professor and Associate Dean in the HKU Faculty of Education. Her research interest includes mathematics teaching and learning, and teacher education. She is the Hong Kong representative of the International Learner’s Perspective Study Project. She is co-editor of Making Connections: Comparing Mathematics Classrooms around the World.

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