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    #Hashtag Hong Kong

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    Listen to #Hashtag Hong Kong every Sunday morning at 8.15

    Focussing on issues affecting civil society, we'll hear from representatives of NGOs, associations, statutory bodies, and non-profit groups.

    (Sundays 8.15am - 8.25am)



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    05/02/2023
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    Jolian Chui, Assistant Director of Programme, International Social Service Hong Kong Branch

    Good Morning, my name is Jolian CHUI, the Assistant Director of Programme at International Social Service Hong Kong Branch. Among my other roles at the Agency, I have been a front-line social worker to serve the New Arrivals, and the Community in SSP South District. I started to serve cross border students and their families 7 years ago. It’s really a rewarding experience to me.

     

    The COVID pandemic has dealt all of us a heavy blow in the past three years, but I think you will agree with me, that Cross-boundary students were one of the groups being the hardest hit. If an adult can be easily distracted and tempted to work on something else during a zoom meeting, just imagine how engaging online classes could possibly be for a child or a teenager, and picture having them every day for three whole years. The kids understandably lack motivation to study, and many got addicted to internet games, are glued to their tablets or computers all the time and are not interested in going out anymore. All these then lead to conflicts with parents and sour parent-child relationships. Three years of online classes have had a huge impact on these students, including studies, psychological health, social life and family relationships – in fact their overall growth and development to be exact.

     

    Throughout the pandemic, we at ISS-HK continued to provide various types of services to ease their plight. Our three service centres in Shenzhen have been collaborating with the Education Bureau to provide physical classes of learning and psychological support to maintain their learning, communication, social, and emotional development and to re-establish a support network among them. We also came up with the innovative examination service in Luohu, Nanshan and Futian, whereby we assist primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong in organizing examination sessions, so the Cross-boundary students can sit for their examinations like their classmates in Hong Kong do. In the school year 2021-22, a total of 288 examination sessions were arranged, and more than 1,200 students took part.

     

    Still, nothing compares to the actual school life they are deprived of – face-to-face interaction with teachers, spending recess with classmates and taking part in after-school activities. We are thrilled when the government finally announced that it was planning for cross border parents to go back to school after the Chinese New Year. We wanted to know the parents’ plans moving forward, as well as their service needs as we enter a new phase. Thus, we conducted a survey among cross border families from December 29 2022 to January 3, 2023, and received 1,013 questionnaires. Out of those parents who said their kids will continue their studies in Hong Kong, which is 97% of those surveyed, 92% will resume their daily trips across the border, between their homes in Shenzhen and schools in Hong Kong.

     

    The government announced just a few days back that travelers between Hong Kong and China are no longer required to conduct the PCR test prior to travelling. This is music to cross border parents’ ears, and many of them are planning to send their kids to their schools in Hong Kong as soon as possible after the announcement. Although many are very much looking forward to it, we found out that they faced numerous issues, and whether they can really go back to school anytime soon after the CNY school holidays is still unknown.

     

    Almost 70% of those surveyed had family members who needed to replace their identity cards or travel documents. And over 37% said they were not aware of the latest transportation arrangements regarding their children’s daily commuting across the border after it reopens. We hope the government can put in extra effort in processing their travel documents, and work with the transportation industry to resume cross border school bus services. With many of these children and teenagers commuting daily to and from school on their own, it is important for the students to be able to stick to the routes they are most familiar with. 34% of the families surveyed said they hoped their children to travel across the border via the Lo Wu control point. But the Lo Wu checkpoint is not open at this point, so we urge the government to consider opening this checkpoint as soon as possible.

     

    Even when all these logistical issues are sorted out, parents are concerned about their children’s progress in studies, social ability, language and communication skills – which understandably lag behind their counterparts in Hong Kong. Let me give you some examples. For those who are in Primary 3 and Secondary Form 3, this will be their first time to actually set foot in their own schools. For DSE students, all their high school years have been spent on internet classes and when they finally come back to school, they are already sitting for their mock examination. These students, among others, do need a lot of support in adapting to post-COVID life, whether it is inside and outside of schools. We at ISS-HK are confident to continue working hand in hand with the government and schools in welcoming these youngsters back into our arms – to let them know that they are never forgotten, and help them feel proud of their identity as a part of Hong Kong, their home and our home. I would like to dedicate the song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver to our cross-border students and all Hong Kong people. May our roads ahead be safe and smooth.

    05/02/2023 - 足本 Full (HKT 08:15 - 08:30)

    05/02/2023 - Jolian Chui, Assistant Director of Programme, International Social Service Hong Kong Branch

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    CATCHUP
    12 - 02
    2022 - 2023
    香港電台第三台

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