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English or languish
Probing the ramifications of Hong Kong's language policy

Quality Assessment
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quality assessment (index) | data collection (graphs | tables)


This section contains more than 40 graphs each with its own data table. Clicking on a graph opens to the table from which the graph was produced. In general the data were obtained from their primary source, and in many cases you can go directly to it by clicking on the highlighted links provided. Primary source data from commercial sources were generally avoided due to project cost constraints. More importantly, secondary sources were only utilised in those cases where the primary source was obvious or clearly referenced. Much of the governmental data was obtained on-site and hyper-links to it are generally not available.

Each subsection is divided into two parts: one, a formal introduction and summary of what follows; and two, a more rigorous analytical treatment that eschews difficult mathematical concepts and terminology. In this way non-specialists with special interests are also able to understand. In the end the education of our children is a serious matter that concerns, or should concern, just about everyone.

There are likely few visitors to Hong Kong who fail to appreciate the architectural splendor, luxury-filled commercial centers, and modern trappings of a vibrant, thriving urban metropolis. The true success of an economy, however, is not what the eye beholds in a brief visit while overseas, or even a local weekend outing to Tsim Tsa Tsoi with one's family and friends; rather, it is what the majority of citizens must endure in order to develop, maintain and furbish it. The magnificent façades and luxurious public interiors erected by one's regional government and wealthy business leaders as expressions of their political cunning and economic prowess, may swell the regional pride of local residents, but cannot hide the trudgery of their daily living. The true prosperity of our world's urban metropolises can be found not in the glamour of their public and commercial showcases, but in the bicycle racks that surround the public transportation hubs that serve them. For it is there one can see what the general public can afford, how well local government protects the property of its citizenry, and the respect these latter have for one another's property and each other.

Certainly, if wealth and power are not concentrated, large undertakings can never be achieved. Notwithstanding, large conspicious displays of wealth that play on the national vanity of those who dwell in their shadows, are but vain symbols of human folly -- the exploited revelling in the work of their own exploitation. Certainly the pyramids of ancient Egypt are an important source of national pride for many Egyptians, but it takes little imagination to understand the human suffering that went into their creation. In the end a society should be judged not by the ability of its leaders to construct magnificent facades and lavish commercial interiors that conceal human suffering and further exploit the fruits of hard earned labor. Rather, it should be judged by the ease and comfort with which total strangers, both domestic and foreign, can live and work side-by-side in productive harmony.

For many in Hong Kong the English language is an important source of commercial empire and political fame, for many others it is likely little more than mindless drudgery with no apparent aim.

Begin quality assessment (new section)


Not having been raised in Hong Kong society the author is likely to appear foolish in what follows on more than one occasion. Hopefully, the disadvantage of being a non-native resident will be compensated by his global vantage point, however.

People who have spent most of their lives in the forest can often know the forest's many trees better than the outsider. On the other hand, the outsider can likely better understand where the forest begins and ends, than someone who has spent little time on the forest's perimeter. Of course, there are also those who have lived both in- and outside the forest for long periods of time, and who would like to hold those who have never left the forest prisoners of their own natural habitat. Certainly something good will have been achieved, if each Hong Konger, who reads these pages, can distinguish among these three stereotypical images of forest inhabitants.

All societies are founded in cultural traditions -- the backbone of social interchange. In addition all societies abound in myths that support these traditions and make them easily accessible to children. Myths are also a popular rallying point for the collective body. Myths are more easily recognized by outsiders, because they are generally shared by all the forest's trees and differ from forest to forest. Those who have never left the forest often find it difficult to separate myth from reality, because the two have been learned as one. Someone who has spent significant time in several different forests can easily distinguish between both, because he or she has learned what is common among different societies and thus has a more universal standard with which to render judgment.

Some traditions and their associated myths survive far beyond their originally intended purpose. Where the stakes are high and the stakeholders powerful, myths are revised and retold, so as to breathe continued life and justification into waning traditions. Hong Kong's universal language (UEL) requirement appears to be just such a tradition, and those who are rewriting and telling the many myths that sustain it in the popular mind are indeed well-educated and powerful.

The author does not promise to know it all, and tries his best to alert readers to areas where he may be in doubt. Nevertheless, he leaves few holds barred and tries to render in a clear, concise manner what can be easily perceived as a system of education that places the interests of a region's academic, entrepreneurial, and political elite over those of its common citizens. The universal English language (UEL) requirement is one of the traditions that services this elite at the expense of the common citizen. That Hong Kongers are not easily led astray by foolish regional pride that shows off the accomplishments of the few at the expense of the many!

Certainly the purpose of EARTH is not to ridicule or defame the common citizen, rather to render clear his plight, so that he can take proper action to escape or overcome it. The enemies of EARTH are ignorance and exploitation that occur in the name of erudition and greatness -- not the common people who have been deceived and are fooled by their collective ignorance and false sense of dignity. If the author appears harsh at times, it is because one cannot cut through a thick plastic veneer with the same velvet gloves that are so often used to polish it. This is not to say that social propriety is not important, but between a delicately woven bikini and a fashionably knit tuxedo there are entire wardrobes of intents, purposes, deceptions, frivolty, vain pursuits, and subterfuge. Let us reveal no more than that which everyone should know, but let us conceal no more than that which serves to protect and does no harm.

Of course, not everyone who causes harm, does so intentionally; and not everyone who seeks to perform good is without recrimination. No one is without fault in this world, but it takes most everyone to succeed. What is important is not our differences for these can be found everywhere; rather, it is the standards that we use for their comparison, and our own motivation for the selection of these standards. State not "Ah, but we are different", or "You are not the same." Rather ask "What standard or standards are we using for comparison?" and "Why have we selected these as our means for comparison?"

In what follows the author raises many flags and no flag; he also claims allegiance to all and none that are raised. In the end, his first loyalty is to humankind and life itself, for without the former the latter would be of little worth to any of us. He is a resident of Hong Kong, and it is there where he is closest to humankind.

Finally this section is still under development, but you are welcome to explore on your own the basis (see below) for its development. For those who are quick to hoist their own flag, you may also like to examine EARTH's Viewpoint (see below). Much of it is a critique on the world's United States-led war on terror.

the basis | viewpoint (new window)|economic model
橋 守 香港新界沙田馬鞍山新港城
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