Jan 13, Hong Kong
With thrills and wonders to everyone especially to the members of Nepalese community in Hong Kong, Nepalese students exhibited their Cantonese language talent in the 'Chinese Language Speaking Contest' held on Sunday at a Government School in Jordan. "Are they Nepalese students?" asked a newly arrived audience watching at a student who was fluently giving her speech in Cantonese language. "Oh! I forgot to bring my camera. This is just incredibly memorable moment." He said.
The expression of surprise is common among Nepalese community members when they see their members communicating fluently in Cantonese in Hong Kong because most of them are believed to be lacking adequate communication skills in Cantonese language. Cantonese for them is just high language.
Occasional complaints of racial discrimination are heard in the media that are believed to be the misunderstandings of cultural and language differences. But the perception that Nepalese community is falling behind due to the lack of Cantonese language will gradually diminish in the next couple of decades, if the next Chinese Nepalese generation grows to its full potential. The mission of some of the parents is to develop their children's Chinese language proficiency so that they can compete with the Chinese students in all the aspects of life. "My primary objective is to enable my child develop his proficiency in Chinese language along with other aspects of learning. That's why I put him into a local Chinese school since his early childhood." Said Purna Bahadur Sarki, whose son secured the third position in the speaking contest. His son Josan is studying in Form 3 at a local CMI secondary school. For Josan's father learning the local language for the immigrants is so important that people must keep in mind. "We must learn a language spoken by the locality. Otherwise we will always be sidelined by our own failure." he said.
The children have harboured wide range of dreams for their future. And they are pretty sure that they can compete with the local people in the future because they can score the similar marks as the Chinese students even in the Chinese langauge examinations. Most students want to become doctors, the dream of most parents. "My parents want me to become a doctor in the future and I will fulfil my parents' wish." Says Salina Rana who is studying in a Band One secondary school. Salina is the only Nepalese students so far to get a place into a Band One secondary school in Hong Kong. Most Nepalese students get places only in low banding schools in Hong Kong due to their poor academic results in Primary and poor Chinese language ability. Those students finally end up with failed HKCEE certificates and join Hong Kong's unskilled workforce.
"Chinese language is very important for our future because it is the most used language in Hong Kong." Echo the students when asked what the importance of learning Chinese is in Hong Kong. That might be the reason for most of the participating students to choose the same topic in the speaking contest. When asked what their logics were in their speech, most participants underlined the importance of Chinese language ranging from shopping to employment and further education.
Hong Kong has numerous vocational and professional training opportunities. Hong Kong's education is considered among the best in the world. But ethnic minorities in Hong Kong always face constraints to pursue all the available training and further education courses because most of them are offered in Chinese medium. This is because the large number of participants in those courses are considered to be local Chinese and not all of them are considered to be able to cope with the English medium courses.
Similar situation persists in the employment sector of Hong Kong, especially in the low skilled or low academic qualification requiring sector. Most employers in Hong Kong prefer at least some Chinese speaking manpower because even the aim of multinational companies in Hong Kong is to attract Hong Kong affluent Chinese clients.
Therefore, there has always been a need of someone to encourage and push the non-Chinese speaking population of Hong Kong to learn Chinese language so that the next generation will not need to face the similar difficulties in the future.
The Chinese language speaking contest organized by Hong Kong Integrated Nepalese Society, in this scenario, is considered as an ideal activity for many parents because, after all their hard effors, they can check how much progress their children have made.
Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, which has also been funding for a Nepalese Community Support Team, sponsored for the Cantonese language speaking contest.
About 40 Nepalese students mainly studying in local CMI Primary and Secondary schools in Hong Kong participated in the contest. "This is very encouraging for us because we can encourage other members of the community to send their children into local CMI schools." Said Mr. Ashok Kumar Gahatraj, the general secretary of the Society. Their organization's main objective is to encourage the Nepalese community members to learn Chinese as early as possible so that there will be a very smooth integration of the community into the local society. He believes that Chinese language education or sometimes the CMI education has become so important for the non-Chinese population in Hong Kong, contrary to many local Chinese parents who prefer having their children educated in EMI.
So the process of breeding Chinese Nepalese has already begun in Hong Kong. There will be, few years later, a portion of Nepalese population needing little help in language related problems, mostly in the areas of employment and further education. These people will have equal commands in Chinese language as well as English as local Chinese and having some knowledge of Nepalese language, most probably in spoken forms only. Time is yet to come to see how many Chinese Nepalese are going to be bred, but the early signs point that Hong Kong will have a new generation of Chinese Nepalese population sooner.