Education and Schools in Hong Kong
Schools in Hong Kong are well regarded academically. Although public schools uphold a high standard of learning, the curriculum is mostly taught in Cantonese and centred on learning by repetition and frequent examinations. As a result, expat families usually enrol their children in private international schools. Fortunately, the diverse nature of Hong Kong ensures that there are many international teachers and school options for expat children.
Public schools in Hong Kong
Education is taken very seriously in Hong Kong culture. Teachers are treated with a great deal of respect, and students tend to be disciplined and well behaved.
The school year in Hong Kong typically runs from September to July.
International schools in Hong Kong
There is a large number of international schools in Hong Kong. These mostly teach the British, American or Australian curricula, and are attended by both foreigners and locals who want to get a foreign education. There is also some choice for families from other countries who want their children to continue with their national curriculum; these include, but are not limited to, Canadian, Norwegian, French, German and Swiss schools. Many international schools also offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme.
As competition for places at the most prestigious schools in Hong Kong tend to be very high, expats will find that some schools sell debentures, which allow the child to be given priority in the admissions process. While having a debenture is advantageous, there is still no guarantee that the child will be accepted. Schools usually cap the number of debentures they issue each year, but this varies from one institution to the next.
Debentures are effectively a type of loan agreement where the school borrows money from an individual or company. The money raised by the debentures become part of the school's capital structure, and the school can use the funds raised in any way it chooses. The debenture, but not the interest earned on it, will usually be reimbursed after the child leaves the school. If the debenture is owned by a company it can be passed on to the child of another expat employee within the company.
Homeschooling in Hong Kong
The legality of homeschooling in Hong Kong is somewhat vague, but expat families are generally allowed to pursue this option. There is a homeschooling support network located primarily in Discovery Bay, a popular location for expat families.
Adult education in Hong Kong
Adults interested in continuing their own education will find a number of reputable graduate programmes in subjects from education to creative writing and business. Hong Kong universities offer many classes and degrees in English. Tuition is competitive, and many of the degree programmes are designed for working professionals who can only attend classes on the weekends.
There are also a number of language schools for expats of any age wishing to learn Cantonese or Mandarin.