Professional Development Series: Dialogue with Professor Kathy Sylva OBE


Prof Kathy Sylva, Professor of Educational Psychology and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Department of Education, and member of Yew Chung Community College (YCCC)’s Governing Council, recently visited Hong Kong and attended:

“A Dialogue with Professor Kathy Sylva”, hosted by Yew Chung Community College (YCCC), where she shared her insights with staff, students and ECE professionals (including senior executives, principals and senior teachers of renowned kindergartens), and

As one of the guest speakers on “Towards Quality Early Childhood Education” at the 10th Anniversary Conference of the Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association in Hong Kong (PECERA-HK) on October 20, 2017, at Yew Chung International School (YCIS).

Throughout the years, Yew Chung has been a pioneer in implementing new approach on Early Childhood Education (ECE) and has gained recognition among the parents and the community. Yew Chung continues its research and authority in the field, by working with world class scholars such as Professor Sylva, on development in ECE. It further supports ECE by establishing YCCC, a college dedicated to nurturing ECE teaching professionals, Chor Hang Educational Research Institute (CHERI), as well as actively participate in research and conferences held by educational organizations such as PECERA.

Professor Sylva currently serves on the highest governing body of the YCCC, which became the first private institution in Hong Kong to provide formal teacher training in ECE in 2014. YCCC is in the process of being upgraded to a degree-awarding institution – the Yew Chung College of Early Childhood Education (YCCECE), which is aiming to launch its first flagship Bachelor of Education (Hons) in ECE degree programme in September 2018. Prof Sylva has been instrumental in shaping this new College, and actively participated in the College’s process in obtaining accreditation from the Authority.

Asked on what makes her so involved with Yew Chung’s initiatives, Professor Sylva replied,

“I have been involved with Yew Chung for over 30 years. What I found unique about them is this bi-lingual AND bi-cultural education. Many schools in HK can claim to be bi-lingual but only a few can say that the Chinese culture is part of the education.

I also like the fact that the school innovates its teaching methodologies with the current and upcoming trends. Their professors and staff members are sensitive to changes and they are willing to adapt their work, experiment new theories and share their knowledge in the educational community.”

Furthermore, Prof Sylva has significantly contributed to policy-making in HKSAR, most notably as an advisor to the Committee on Free Kindergarten Education, developing the policy on 15 years of free education, led by Mr. Moses Cheng (see press release: http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201310/24/P201310230567.htm).

Quote from Dr Betty Chan Po-king, Chairperson and CEO of Yew Chung Education Foundation (YCEF), School Supervisor of YCIS, President of PECERA – HK and PECERA – International, “Celebrating Yew Chung’s 85th anniversary this year, we want to continue our pioneering spirit, building upon the legacy of our founder and my late mother, Madam Tsang Chor-hang, as well as furthering our contributions to the community through Early Childhood Education (ECE). Since the 1970’s, when I returned from my studies in the U.S., Yew Chung took the revolutionary step to introduce what were then radical concepts of play-based learning and child-centered approach in Hong Kong. Our innovative approach was soon widely recognized by parents and the community, and we became firmly established in the ECE sector.

Throughout the years, despite our expansion into primary and secondary schooling through YCIS, we never ceased our research and development in ECE, by actively engaging with world class scholars in the field, such as Professor Kathy Sylva of Oxford University. Professor Sylva has graciously supported our schools, including the Yew Chung Community College (YCCC, which is in the process of upgrading to a degree-awarding institution, specializing in ECE) and our newly established Chor Hang Educational Research Institute (CHERI). Professor Sylva, a longtime colleague and friend, has also been advising the HK government on Free Quality Kindergarten Education Scheme and sharing her expertise through public seminars organized by PECERA-HK.

Looking forward, we will continue to actively participate and contribute to the ECE field in Hong Kong and globally, through both our schools and college, as well as through research.”