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Hospital teacher is a class act for her students

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-05-20 08:54
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Ko Cheuk-kiu uses word cards to help students learn vocabulary. [Photo/Xinhua]

HONG KONG — At the school where Ko Cheuk-kiu works, there are neither school bells ringing nor students running around the playground.

"You look good today. Shall we review the text together?" After greeting her student Hei Hei, Ko, in a light blue uniform, turns on her tablet computer and begins to teach at the bedside.

Ko is a teacher for the Hong Kong Red Cross Hospital Schools, which provides education services for hospitalized children.

"Teaching children in a hospital? I was curious and keen to know more about it," Ko recalls, explaining she first learned about the school from a newspaper report in 2009 when she had just finished her master's degree in language.

Ko, who also studied special education, applied for a teaching position at the school and was hired as a Chinese language teacher.

Founded in 1954, the Hong Kong Red Cross Hospital Schools initially provided services in only one public medical institution. Now, it is a special education institute funded by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, with 26 school units attached to 19 public hospitals.

Its services are mainly divided into three fields — general specialty, psychiatry, and homebound teaching programs. The first two provide services for hospitalized students to reduce their difficulties in returning to school after being discharged, while homebound teaching is aimed at students who need to stay at home to recuperate for a long period.

Teachers are assigned to different hospitals or students' homes and rotate at regular intervals.

"Every morning, the first thing we do is to check on each student in the ward and see if they are physically well enough to attend classes," Ko says, adding that the students come from different backgrounds and even speak different languages.

The special school caters for students aged between 6 and 18. Most teachers need to teach both primary and secondary schoolage students, so they are always well-prepared to take care of students from different levels. Depending on the situation, teachers will carry out small group or one-on-one bedside teaching, and each session lasts about 30 minutes.

Teachers in hospitals have to meet students with different medical conditions and face all kinds of challenges every day, but Ko regards these experiences as training, which have led her to have a deeper appreciation of life.

In recent years, the school has offered diversified activities for students to enrich their learning experiences.

Starting from the 2022/23 school year, it introduced a more comprehensive senior secondary school curriculum to provide better support for hospitalized students.

Over the years, Ko has received a lot of greeting cards from parents and students showing their appreciation.

Gazing at these warm words of encouragement, she silently sends her best wishes to the students. "I hope they can soon recover and go back to school, and continue to pursue their dreams," she says.

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