Formerly employed by Goldman Sachs, Teach4HK founder argues that exposing pupils to new experiences can help them dream bigger.
In an effort to tackle education inequality in Hong Kong, a local charity is placing top university graduates as teachers in underprivileged schools for the third straight academic year.
Teach4HK has taught over 7,000 pupils since it kicked off in 2014. That year, the group placed six fellows in three schools. The programme has expanded rapidly: this academic year, there are 24 fellows in 12 partner schools across the city, and next year the aim is to place 40 fellows.
Underprivileged children get targeted. At least half the schools’ pupils must hail from families receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, a government welfare programme.
It was founder and CEO Arnold Chan who perceived an unmet need in the city.
“As I grew up and met more friends from underprivileged backgrounds, I realised their talents weren’t being captured by the exam system, and they’re defined as failures,” he says.
Chan understands the value of opportunity. A former pupil of highly selective boys’ secondary school La Salle College, he obtained a degree in global business at the Chinese University of Hong Kong before working in sales for Goldman Sachs, the investment banking giant.
“I know the opportunity of quality, or well-exposed, education,” Chan, 28, explains. “I was just lucky.”
The idea for Teach4HK came to him as he divided free time between socialising with wealthy colleagues and visiting pupils’ families in subdivided flats and volunteer teaching. Chan came to the conclusion that Hong Kong’s wide wealth gap needed to be closed.