Share this page:

Hong Kong
Hong Kong

February 14, 2013

Taiwanese Families Help Fellow Homeschoolers in Hong Kong

By Arni Highfield

L-R: Cam, Arni, Tim, and Dorota (Central New Agency, Taiwan)

Hong Kong has a very small homeschool community, largely because it is widely—and incorrectly—believed to be illegal to homeschool here. Most of the current homeschoolers are expatriate families, although there are a few local ones as well. Because of this belief, almost no families have made any formal application to the Hong Kong Education Bureau. One exception is our family. We have two children who had already studied at home previously for nearly five years during our extended sea voyage. After trying a local school in Hong Kong for two years, we decided to resume homeschooling. Since our reading of the education law led me to believe the Bureau did have the authority to approve this method of education, we went ahead and applied for permission before withdrawing our children from the local school. To be honest, we did have a bit of difficulty as the Bureau’s policies are at odds with the law. However, to be fair, the Bureau officials treated the case sensibly, and after a lengthy interview, gave tacit approval—although I note no official written permission was given to us.

Subsequently, my wife Cam wrote a book, in Chinese, comparing homeschooling with going to the local school. Through her brother, who is a special school headmaster, she became acquainted with Professor K.M. Cheng of Hong Kong University, who was very supportive and wrote a preface for the book. This distinguished academic is well-known in Hong Kong being an authority, among other things, on education. Professor Cheng holds very persuasive and modern views on the subject and supports the concept of homeschool in suitable cases.

The Chen’s daughter speaks about her experience being homeschooled (Central New Agency, Taiwan)

A reporter friend who writes on education, Leila Chan, knew of the work of Tim Chen and the Taiwan Homeschool Advocates and put us in touch. Well, getting us together was like touching fire to kindling and ideas poured out. One immediate result was a sharing meeting, kindly arranged at the University by Prof. Cheng. During his family’s visit to Hong Kong, Tim presented to an interested group his experiences with regularizing homeschooling in Taiwan. About thirty people attended, including homeschool parents, reporters and interested parents. Tim puts on a terrific presentation with lots of color and help from his wife Dorota and children who all added their views of homeschooling. We managed the three languages (Mandarin, Cantonese and English) pretty well and all learned a great deal, particularly during the subsequent question and answer and discussion session. We learned that Hong Kong’s situation is remarkably similar to that which existed previously in Taiwan, where the law theoretically allowed homeschooling, but where no procedure for homeschooling had yet been articulated. Widespread misunderstanding among both the government and the public followed. It was instructive to learn how Tim and Taiwanese families had addressed this, with eventual success.

This meeting and information was extremely valuable and has given us here the basis on which to base a campaign to bring about the same outcome: the regularizing of homeschooling as a small but very acceptable alternative form of education.

Arni and Cam Highfield homeschool their children in Hong Kong.

 Other Resources

Learn more by visiting HSLDA’s Hong Kong page.