Classroom with young schoolchildren and teacher in lively activity

Impacting Hong Kong Society Through Community Outreach and Experiential Learning

Our #EdCareersForSocialGood campaign started this week and it’s all about shining a light on some of the career paths students who are motivated by giving back to communities might like to consider. 

To kick things off here on the blog, we’re delighted to have a guest post from Chatteris which highlights some of the work they do to tackle educational inequalities in Hong Kong.  Chatteris have recruited many University of Edinburgh graduates over the years to support this work. 

It will come as no shock to anyone reading this, but the world we live in is now irrevocably different from the one we inhabited pre-pandemic. The economic and societal toll that the pandemic has wrought has been borne by many of us, though this burden has fallen primarily on the already at-risk and disadvantaged. Before continuing, it’s important to stress that the problems outlined here do not represent a condemnation of responses to the pandemic i.e. lockdowns, alterations to services etc. Rather, a hope to highlight existing problems that this pandemic has heightened, while also demonstrating Chatteris Educational Foundation’s commitment to community outreach to help ameliorate these conditions as best we can.  

Poverty in Hong Kong hit a 12-year high in 2021, and while government social spending correspondingly increased, the economic impact on the disadvantaged remains stark. The pandemic laid bare the economic balancing act required by many around the world just to survive, and highlighted some key areas where organisations can fill in the gaps until they are reformed or addressed by the public sector. One of these areas is education, and Hong Kong is a perfect example of the disparities in this sector.  

In 2012, just under 64% of students in Hong Kong received private tuition, with an average of 4.9 hours of private tuition per week. This was nearly double the figures from 1996, and while up to date information is difficult to find, the upwards trend is revealing. With the closure of schools throughout the pandemic the ‘education gap’ has certainly expanded. Those with access to private tutors were typically better positioned to handle the changes to education that the pandemic requires, and are also more likely to have access to better at-home resources to enhance their remote learning. This leaves those who cannot afford private lessons at a significant disadvantage; often forced to share limited space at home with siblings who are also trying to learn from home, and parents who may be either out of work or working from home.  

This is where charitable organisations like Chatteris can help – by providing services for those that can’t pursue them in the private sector. We offer a host of community outreach programmes that connect our Native-speaking English Tutors to students from a variety of different backgrounds. Through our Refugee Storytelling programme, we are able to offer engaging small-group reading sessions for young students associated with the Hong Kong Society for Asylum Seekers and Refugees (HKSASR), providing valuable opportunities for literacy and speaking skills practice. Our collaboration with the Heep Hong Society facilitates interactive English sessions for students with Special Educational Needs that are missing that individual support they may have received while in school full-time. Through these and other community outreach programmes with partners such as Loving Kids Community Service Centre, Chatteris is able to play a small role in helping the local community through an unprecedented time – a rewarding and invaluable experience for our tutors.  

In addition to our network of community outreach, the Chatteris team collaborates on a number of sustainability and environmental projects to increase students’ exposure to experiential outdoor learning. A UK study found learning outdoors improved everything from student wellbeing, to staff professional development. In an education system as high-pressure as Hong Kong’s, it is easy to see the value of this approach. 

The largest environmental project currently run by Chatteris is a series of environment and sustainability focused camps. For a detailed breakdown of the camps’ activities, check out our Chatteris blog. The camps’ varied schedules include nature walks and bird spotting – as well as beach-based activities such as sports day and clean-ups.  

Students’ enjoyment when learning outside of the classroom is palpable, even during the summer months, where the average temperature soars above 30 degrees and the humidity hits a heavy 80%.  

While ‘no man is an island’ is true even in the best of times, the need for community and connection is enhanced in times of crisis. As governments remain occupied with public health responses to the pandemic and mitigating the macro-economic factors at play, it is crucial that organisations such as Chatteris focus on creativity, collaboration and commitment to help the local community get through the difficult times. 

To find out more about how Chatteris Educational Foundation impacts students, graduates, and the wider Hong Kong community visit our website or follow us on social media!  

  Chatteris website

For more content related to careers with Social Impact, please search #EdCareersForSocialGood on socials and MyCareerHub. 




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