Students should know both traditional & standardised Chinese characters: DSEDJ chief

2024-06-25 04:12
BY Yuki Lei

A group of parents of Sacred Heart Canossian College (Chinese Section) students have recently sent an open letter to the Education and Youth Development Bureau (DSEDJ) complaining about the school’s switch from traditional to simplified (nationally standardised) Chinese character textbooks, published in the mainland, from the next school year, which resulted in a major online row among local residents, and DSEDJ Director Kong Chi Meng responded to the controversy yesterday by insisting that the bureau has already required schools since the 2015/2016 academic year to ensure that their students use traditional Chinese characters correctly but also should “know” the nation’s standardised Chinese characters.

The letter published on Facebook on Thursday night complained that the Sacred Heart Canossian College (Chinese Section) would use the simplified Chinese character textbooks published by the People’s Education Press (PEP) at the junior primary level starting from the 2024-2025 school year, leading the parents to worry that their children would have difficulty in mastering traditional Chinese characters and that traditional Chinese characters would ultimately be lost in the local community.

The nation’s standardised Chinese characters are generally known in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as “simplified” Chinese characters which are used both in the Chinese mainland, Singapore and Malaysia, as well as international organisations such as the United Nations.

Sacred Heart Canossian College is owned by the Canossian Daughters of Charity under the local Catholic diocese.

Speaking to the media after yesterday’s opening ceremony of the ISF World School Basketball Championship, Kong said: “We have been aware that a school has recently given different views to parents on the choice of teaching materials for their school. All along education in Macau has always been diversified, allowing schools to choose teaching materials in accordance with their own school-based characteristics, the professionalism of their teachers, as well as the needs of students’ growth and their parents’ views,” underlining that the bureau has made it “very clear” in its “Basic Academic Skills Requirements for Regular Education in the Local School System” that schools are required to enable their students to achieve the goal of attaining both the correct use of traditional Chinese characters and knowledge of the nation’s standardised Chinese characters through different teaching materials and subjects.

According to Kong, the school concerned has continued to communicate with its students’ parents and listened to their views in the process of selecting teaching materials, and finally has decided that it will continue to use textbooks in traditional Chinese characters. He said: “More communication in home-school cooperation will be more beneficial to the growth of students”.

The Sacred Heart Canossian College (Chinese Section) released on Sunday night a circular to its students’ parents, saying that after several rounds of communication with the parents, it has decided to use traditional Chinese characters for Chinese language learning in the new school year, including writing, tests, examinations and homework, adding that it has been decided that the Chinese teaching materials of the primary school will be in the traditional Chinese character version published by the bureau, and the list of books will be updated in due course, but students will also be introduced to the nation’s standardised Chinese characters in some other subjects. 

Education and Youth Development Bureau (DSEDJ) Director Kong Chi Meng speaks to the media after yesterday’s opening ceremony of the eight-day ISF World School Basketball Championship, at Tap Seac Multisport Pavilion.
– Photo: Yuki Lei


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