As I always like to talk about subsidized and/or free education, so I was naturally interested in Hong Kong’s Voucher scheme (PEVS). I formally interviewed my school Principal to know the in-depth details of the scheme. Principal’s and school’s name is withheld due to privacy.
Interviewer: 高莫娜 Mona Interviewee: Principal ABC kindergarten
Venue: School office Time: 4:30 pm
AIM: To understand the Preprimary Education Voucher Scheme (PEVS) and its aftermaths in the Government subsidized Kindergarten
Q1: When did you join the PEVS scheme?
A: We first joined the PEVS scheme in the 2007-2008 academic year.
Q2: Why were you willing to adopt the voucher scheme?
A: The scheme is surely a great help for parents. In our school, the majority of parents belong to low income earning families of non-Chinese descent. If we had not adopted the scheme, we might have lost maximum number of our parents. They might enroll their kids in Voucher receiving schools.
Q3: Has the voucher scheme helped in improving the teachers’ quality in the school?
A: I will say “yes’ because the scheme funds for teachers’ professional development. Our maximum number of teachers have benefitted from the scheme. And as it is stated by EDB, by the year 2012, all teachers must be a CE graduate; no school can hire a non-qualified staff. So, in the short run, all schools will be having the qualified teachers.
Q4: How it has improved teachers’ quality?
A: As I mentioned earlier, teachers are supposed to upgrade their qualification. It is really a milestone in kindergarten education. Normally it is very difficult for serving teachers to enroll for further studies. Everyone is engaged in some kind of commitments. By announcing the deadline for serving teachers, EDB has taken a step further in upgrading the preprimary education. Qualified teachers are well aware of the Early Childhood Education needs and they understand the children better. They are able to identify kid’s level and can assign the tasks according to their age level. Without proper qualification, teachers sometimes used to under estimate or over estimate the kids’ potential.
Q5: How the voucher had been helpful in improving the pre-primary quality
education in your kindergarten?
A: Teachers are exposed to great opportunity of professional learning and can make changes and innovations. Even if they don’t apply everything into their class, still they have the knowledge of theories. They have a better understanding of why do they need to teach in a certain way. While our teachers go out for learning, they communicate with different teachers and gain more professional knowledge and ideas. Their quality of work is definitely improving.
Q6: After joining the voucher scheme, has the quality of education upgraded
or downgraded in the school?
A: I would say that our school is continuously upgrading, since we joined the scheme. Our teachers are getting better professionally. Even if they don’t stay at our school and leave for better opportunities, still the new teachers we hire are already CE graduate or are learning. So it is a win-win situation in all circumstances.
Q7: How the PEVS scheme has helped you in getting better teaching resources?
A: When we joined the scheme in the year 2007-2008, we got a one-off grant for two consecutive years. It was a total sum of HK$160,000, (HK$ 80,000 each year). We used this money to buy some teaching resources like computer, books etc. We also invited a Hong Kong IED lecturer once a month for 2 consecutive years, to explain to our teachers “How can we do Teaching & Learning effectively”, and “how to learn through the peer observation”. After 2 years, there is no specific allocated money for resources by the EDB. The grant we get for each student every year, is used to pay for the teachers’ tuition fee.
Q8: What is the best part of joining the PEVS scheme?
A: Actually there are two best parts of the scheme. Firstly, it is a great help for teachers’ learning. They do not need to pay. Secondly, parents are benefitting from the scheme. They are enjoying a quality education for their kids at a much lower cost.
Q9: What is the pressure of PEVS on the kindergarten heads/leaders?
A: The “Quality Review” is really a great pressure for us. We have to keep a record of each and everything. We have to show every activity. We need to do a lot of paper work.
Q10: Are you willing to continue with the scheme in future?
A: We will definitely continue with the scheme. It is a real help for parents and a source of steady and continuous enrollment in our school.
Q11: How your school will be benefitting from the scheme in future?
A: We will be benefitting through the parents. The scheme will continue to help the parents and parents will keep on enjoying a good learning environment for their kids in our school at a reasonable school fee.
Q12: Continuing with the PEVS scheme, what future do you see for your school?
A: Continuous and steady enrollment of students will give us an opportunity to do better. We will strive for excellence. In the short run, all teachers will be professionally qualified and with their help and ideas, we will try our best to create a true child-centered play based curriculum with keeping in mind their holistic needs. I hope our students will be better in self-care, self-esteem, and self-reliance in the coming future.