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Quicker access to education

September 03, 2017

Book smart

Book smart:  Reading Dreams Foundation Chairman Leung Wai-ming says reading is the bedrock of learning. (Pic: Leung Wai-ming)

Mindful mentoring

Mindful mentoring:  Mr Leung trains teachers to build their students' ability to self-learn. (Pic: Leung Wai-ming)

Inspiring students

Inspiring students:  Mr Leung wants to improve education quality in rural Mainland schools.

Time saving

Time saving:  Mr Leung hopes the opening of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link will allow him to travel to the Mainland more easily. (Pic: Leung Wai-ming)

Leung Wai-ming is a man on a mission.

 

For the last decade he has been working hard to improve the quality of schooling in rural parts of the Mainland to give village children the chance to receive a good education.

 

After working as a teacher for 25 years, he quit his job as the headmaster at a Hong Kong primary school to set up the Reading Dreams Foundation.

 

He now helps to enhance education in Hunan by building libraries, providing teacher training and teaching students self-learning skills.

 

"Ten years ago I had the chance to visit primary schools in rural villages in Hunan. I had heard their teaching methods were inadequate, so I thought, to help the students have a brighter future, teaching methods must be enhanced."

 

Teacher training

Mr Leung found many schools had no library, and the few that did only had donated books, many of which were unsuitable for educating children.

 

He also found the schools' teaching methods were out of date and uninspiring to the students.

 

"We believe reading is the foundation of learning. Reading is not only about understanding writing.

 

"We have to teach children how to read and to build the ability to self-learn, and to digest content and to contemplate it. Our training allows teachers to do that."

 

The training provided is not for the students, but for the teachers.

 

"I need to change their mode of education. It should not be just teachers lecturing and students listening."

 

Mr Leung asked the schools to allow him to train their teachers to use libraries to encourage students to learn how to educate themselves and develop good lifelong habits to help lift them out of poverty.

 

The foundation has established 324 school libraries so far.

 

He trains the teachers according to the foundation's teaching model, and does random evaluations to check their progress.

 

At the same time, he needs to find donors in Hong Kong and promote the foundation's work.

 

This requires frequent travel between the two places.

 

"I once travelled between Hong Kong and Hunan five to six times in one month!"

 

High frequency

With only one daily direct flight between Hong Kong and Hunan, Mr Leung has limited travel options.

 

To save on expenses, he gets to Hunan by high-speed rail from Shenzhen.

 

"I used to travel to Shenzhen then take a plane to Hunan, but there were fewer flights after the high-speed rail started running, so I started taking the high-speed rail instead.

 

"Although it takes more time than a plane, there are many trains and fewer delays. I can also walk around on the train and do a lot of paperwork during the journey, which I can't do on a plane."

 

He said the opening of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link will save him time when it starts running next year, as he will no longer need to get to Hunan via Shenzhen.

 

With the more convenient travel offered by the link, he is now planning to develop a long-term training programme for more schools in various locations on the Mainland.

 

"Only education can change the lives of these children. I have to help. That is my mission."

 

Despite the expansion of his training programme, Mr Leung, now 58, hopes the link will allow him to spend more time with his family.



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