The First Pay-for-Success Project in Hong Kong
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Press Releases & Updates

30 OCT 2020

The First Pay-for-Success Project in Hong Kong: Chinese enrichment classes for ethnic minority students

In 2015, Oxfam Hong Kong partnered with the University of Hong Kong and The Education University of Hong Kong to launch ‘Start from the Beginning – Chinese Supporting Scheme for Non-Chinese Speaking Students in Kindergarten’. Dynamic Chinese enrichment classes have been provided through the scheme to over 1,000 non-Chinese speaking students since its inception, and these students have seen significant improvements in their Chinese proficiency. 

With the support of the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development (SIE) Fund, Oxfam successfully scaled up its project by adopting the Pay-for-Success (PFS) model – the first project in Hong Kong to link up the public, private and NGO sectors. Paving the way to the PFS model, the SIE Fund was joined by a collective of funders including Credit Suisse, Lee Hysan Foundation, Wu Jieh Yee Charitable Foundation, Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation, Van Tse Zung Charitable Foundation and Oxfam to fund the program from 2017 to 2020. The PFS model is different from the traditional grant as the government only makes a payment once guaranteed social outcomes are achieved. 

After the completion of the programme, the Chinese proficiency gap between Chinese and non-Chinese speaking students can, on average, be closed by 52 per cent. Further, teachers are better equipped to teach students of different linguistic backgrounds.

What is the PFS model?
PFS, also known as a social impact bond, is a public private partnership model. The key roles in the collaboration model are commissioner, intermediary, investors, service provider and independent evaluator. 

Investors will first invest in the project, which will then be carried out by service providers. An independent outcomes evaluator will then measure the outcome and report to the commissioner directly. Repayments plus financial return will only be made if all the outcomes are achieved. This innovative model enables investors to share the risk and ensures taxpayers’ money is well spent.

The SIE Fund has taken up the role of commissioner in the first PFS project launched in Hong Kong. Oxfam co-designed the project with partner organisations and is also one of the service providers providing non-Chinese speaking (NCS) parents with support as their children’s transition into primary school. As the intermediary of the project, Oxfam is also the main point of contact for various stakeholders, while the University of Hong Kong and The Education University of Hong Kong are in charge of the curriculum design, teaching, and production of teaching materials and teachers’ training. The Hong Kong Council of Social Service is the local PFS consultant and the four investors are Wu Jieh Yee Charitable Foundation, Stan Group (Holdings) Limited, Lee Hysan Foundation and Oxfam Hong Kong. 

Dynamic Enrichment Learning Mode
The project duration spans three years (from 2020 to 2023), and during the first two years, will cover 74 kindergartens, including four seed kindergartens and 70 network kindergartens. An online learning community will be launched in the third year and a series of workshops will be organised for knowledge dissemination. Our teachers will provide dynamic Chinese enrichment class in seed schools once or twice a week to NCS students individually or in group. The dynamic Chinese enrichment class is the first of its kind and is tailored for NCS students. To ensure teachers are well equipped to deliver these classes, we will train teachers in network schools through a mentorship programme, and provide inter-school exchange opportunities, seminars and workshops to enhance their teaching skills.

Supporting parents as their children transition from kindergarten to primary 
Parents of ethnic minorities often experience difficulties finding the right primary school for their children. The support primary schools offer non-Chinese speaking students varies, and most information that is available is in Chinese. That is why Oxfam has produced and translated information about primary school admissions for parents of children who have joined the programme, and is providing them with more ways to gather helpful information, like Oxfam’s WhatsApp group. Seminars and workshops will also be organised for the local kindergarten communities in the third year to promote the Dynamic Enrichment Learning Mode (DELM) model and the online learning community, as the goal is to further the project’s reach so that more and more NCS students can benefit from it. 

Wong Shek Hung, Acting Director of Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan Programme said, ‘The pilot project, supported by the SIE Fund and our institutional funders, has achieved marvellous results. Some NCS students have seen significant improvements in their Chinese proficiency after joining our programme; they even performed better than their Chinese-speaking peers in some Chinese tests’. We believe this programme effectively improves the Chinese proficiency of NCS students, enables them to gain equal access to opportunity, pique their interest and motivate them to learn Chinese, and enhance their confidence to speak Chinese. 

The EDB should provide equal learning opportunities for NCS students 
Students, regardless of their ethnicity or background, should receive equal learning opportunities. Oxfam is thus urging the Education Bureau (EDB) to adopt its DELM model in kindergartens that admit NCS students and introduce the Chinese as a second language curriculum in kindergartens. 

With regard to teacher training, we recommend structured Basic, Advanced and Thematic (BAT) Courses on teaching Chinese as a second language to NCS students. The EDB should also set training targets to ensure schools that admit NCS students send a certain percentage of their teachers to receive training to provide NCS students with ample support as they learn Chinese. 

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Background and Funders:

‘Start from the Beginning – Chinese Supporting Scheme for Non-Chinese Speaking Students in Kindergarten’ was launched since 2015. The first stage (2015 to 2017) was supported by the SIE Fund and Oxfam to provide Chinese enrichment class at six kindergartens. Stage II (2017 to 2019) was supported by the SIE Fund, Credit Suisse and Oxfam, and the project was implemented in six kindergartens. Pre-stage III (2019 to 2020) was supported by Lee Hysan Foundation, Wu Jieh Yee Charitable Foundation, Credit Suisse, Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation, Van Tse Zung Charitable Foundation and Oxfam, where the project was implemented in four seed and four network kindergartens. 

Each stage of the project thus far was funded through grants, and has laid a solid foundation for our Pay-for-Success project. Oxfam highly appreciates its funders’ support. Oxfam will continue to work hard with its partners to improve the Chinese proficiency of NCS students so that they have equal access to opportunities. 

About Oxfam

Oxfam is a worldwide development organisation that mobilises the power of people against poverty.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Roni Chan
Communications Officer
Oxfam Hong Kong
Phone: (852) 3120 5222