When Madam Tsang Chor-hang started YCIS in 1932, her intent was to educate young children who would distinguish themselves in both academic achievement and moral character.
The school’s principles have not changed since it was established over 80 years ago when its founding motto was “diligence, thrift, modesty and honesty.”
“The educational approach today still reflects the legacy of Madam Tsang. In essence, there are three core beliefs underpinning our philosophy and practice: that education must change with time, that education must produce long-term benefits for individuals, and that education must help to create a better future for all mankind,” said Dr Betty Chan Po-king, who is the daughter of Madam Tsang.
As the concept of globalisation emerged in the 1980s, the school began realising the importance of changing with the times and began rethinking the way children should be educated to adapt to these changes. “Hence the idea of ‘global education’ was born. As our economy becomes more and more
intertwined with those of other countries, we must embrace globalisation for the future. We have to provide an international education for our students to be able to thrive globally, by combining the best of East and West so that students to have the intercultural competency to work in different parts of the world,” she said.
YCIS combines the cultures of the Eastern and Western by promoting fluency in two world languages – Chinese and English – creating a truly bilingual learning environment. Chinese and English are the most important languages, and Dr Chan said fully mastering these two languages also helps students’ cultural understanding.
Bilingual education is not simply about learning languages, but rather helping students become completely comfortable in Eastern and Western cultures. “At YCIS, we are committed to offering a bilingual and multicultural learning environment to nurture our students. We give equal weight to English and Chinese learning and have pioneered the ‘Co-Principal’ and ‘Co-Teaching’ models. This ensures equity in status between the two world languages and cultures throughout the school,” she added.
Two fully-qualified teachers, one Western and one Chinese, plan lessons and teach classes together in the Early Childhood Education and Primary School. Each school also has two Co- Principals, one Western and one Chinese, who work in partnership to ensure the smooth operation and administration of the school.
Aside from bilingual language skills, Chan is also proud of the unique qualities of their students – their broad knowledge of the world, their multicultural understanding and environmental awareness, academic excellence, and their diverse talents and achievements in various fields. “Our graduates are accepted into top universities year after year, which is evidence of the success of our educational model,” she said.
These achievements have led to record applications and a long waiting list in YCIS, which is a common problem for par- ents looking to get their children into international schools in Hong Kong. “The demand for international school places is not only derived from the growth in the foreign business community, but also an increasing number of local residents as well as returning emigrants who are willing to pay the higher school fees for their children to receive a better quality international education. In short, there are simply too many families – both local and expat – aiming for the few top international schools,” Dr Chan explained.
To ease the shortage, she suggests that the Hong Kong Government should improve the overall quality of local schools and level the playing field by providing greater support to existing high quality international schools.
“The government should not just heavily subsidize a few schools or selectively import ‘brand names’ from abroad. There are actually many excellent schools in Hong Kong, but it is a constant struggle for private schools like ours to survive. We hope that the Government will recognise the value and contribution of locally-grown international schools,” she said.
Over the next decade, Dr Chan hopes that YCIS will firmly establish itself as a globally recognised network of top-quality international schools, with a strong reputation for bilingual and multicultural education.
“At YCIS, we will continue to push boundaries and aim to remain at the forefront of the industry. Also, we would like to share our unique philosophy and pioneering educational model more widely, and for it to be adopted by different countries and cultures,” she said. At present, the school has established similar educational institutions in Mainland China and in Silicon Valley in the United States.
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