There may be no shortage of outstanding international schools in Hong Kong, but to some parents and families, sending their kids to one might still be considered a foreign concept. Competitive admissions aside, with tuition fee that climbs up to HK$185,000 annually, the cost may just be a tad too high for the average family.
The Mount Kelly Hong Kong Foundation, the charitable arm of Mount Kelly School Hong Kong (set to open its Hung Hom Bay campus this September), is out to change this. Believing that a globally-oriented education should be accessible to the financially disadvantaged, they are launching a scholarship programme that offers qualified students the funding to attend any international school of their choosing.
We chat with Martin Wong, Bursar of Mount Kelly School Hong Kong and Governor of the Foundation, to learn more about this unique scheme and get a few interviewing tips.
Tell us more about the Mount Kelly Hong Kong Foundation and the unique mission of its scholarship programme.
We are a charitable organisation in Hong Kong aiming to provide quality education to children who are capable but lack resources. We offer either full coverage of fees, which include uniforms, resources and application fees, or 50 per cent of tuition fees.
Our biggest distinction is that our successful applicants aren't limited to pursuing studies at Mount Kelly—they actually get to choose any international school in Hong Kong they wish to attend. I believe this scholarship is the first of its kind in the world.
What impact do you hope this scholarship will have on the students who receive it?
That they will have a better future; that is the basis of it. We would like to provide equal opportunities for kids even if they lack money or resources. Though we would love for them to study at Mount Kelly because of our outstanding pastoral care and ethos, ultimately, the scholarship is to benefit underprivileged students, not ourselves, and we want them to make that choice.
Read more: Where Do Celebrity Kids Go To School?
The selection process focuses not only on academic achievements but also aptitude in athletics, the arts, leadership and community service. Why do you think these aspects are equally important?
Not all kids are excellent in academics; some are really good at sports or the arts and we can’t overlook them simply because their academics aren’t on par with other students. However, criteria we do insist on are a sense of leadership, community service, integrity, honesty and an ability to understand things and respect other people. It is important to have a student that has integrity instilled rather than one that is just academically perfect. We try to encourage children to be confident future leaders who can make their own decisions.
Do you think these qualities are emphasised much more in international schools than local schools?
I believe so. Being globally minded is much more relevant these days because we are global citizens.
Are there any specifics you look for when interviewing applicants?
I get asked this a lot by parents, but honestly, there are no tips. Many force their kids to memorise a set of questions and answers but this is not necessary. The kids have to be themselves.
Doing well in your assessment doesn’t mean you’ll do well in your academics in the future; that is why our interviews take more of a fun and communicative approach: we have a set of questions, communicate with the children and play some games, so we know how the kids react to questions or simple instructions.
There are a myriad of curriculums available among Hong Kong’s international schools, from IB to GCSE and A-Levels. How do parents choose what suits their child best?
I’ve been educated in the British system since I was young. From an academic point of view, the British curriculum is a fixed set and children can easily transition to another school with the same syllabus. The beauty of the British curriculum is the standardisation. For IB and the others, there may be bigger disparities between schools.
You received an MBA from Harvard Business School. For parents who are thinking ahead about university studies, do you have any advice?
Students shouldn’t pick a school just because of the qualification they'll be getting in the future. It is not the piece of paper that will put you on a highway to your career, it is what you learn in the school and the network of people you meet. They open up not only opportunities but most importantly your mindset and thinking. When you are young, you build character; when you grow older, you sharpen your character and network.
The Mount Kelly Hong Kong Foundation scholarship programme will be open for applications at the end of July 2017. More information will be released on their website mountkelly.com.hk at the end of the month; alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an interview.