My contact decided to take me up as her professional pen pal because she was a kindergarten teacher and principal for about 15 years; she answered my questions with robust answers. I feel grateful for her cooperation.
She works for the sign bilingual and co-enrollment (SLCO) since 2007. From reading their website, it appeared and was confirmed that the funding for early childhood might run out. I asked if they did get more funding for early childhood program. “Our programme was sponsored by Jockey Club from 2006-2014 and we won't get any funding from Jockey Club now. Fortunately, we got some donors to support our programme to develop the SLCO model.”
It appears that the Sign Bilingual and Co-Enrollment (SLCO) is a part of the Kindergarten program. Parents of deaf children pay directly to the Kindergarten. Pre-school is not free in Hong Kong and receives no subsidies from government. Their SLCO programme staff's salary are supported by donors and their Deaf Education Fund.
The sign-bilingual programmes that are provided by their center:
· Baby Signing Programme (0-3 years old) every Saturday
· Parent Signing Programme
· Baby Signing Programme @ 5 day Creches
· SLCO progamme at mainstream kindergarten (3-6 years) towards the academic year from September to mid of July.
· Reading Programme in sign bilingual programme (3-6 years old) every Saturday
I asked how the families are involved; I think something was lost in translation. She gave me the numbers of deaf and hearing students in each level of the SLCO:
Three deaf and 285 hearing children are in Baby Signing Programme.
22 deaf and 8 hearing children are in the Reading programme.
39 deaf and 42 are in Kindergarten co-enrollment.
They maintain daily communication with families through phone, what apps, and email. They also have a parent-sharing session every month. The sign bilingual and co-enrollment (SLCO) staff would share their teaching experiences with parents and home teachers. Staff is expected to have good communication with both parents and home teachers. They also have an Individual Educational Plans (IEP) for each Deaf student.
My last question was whether the Deaf children were performing grade-level academically. She answered, “U know, every Deaf child has their straight (sic) and weakness in difference area of development. It's hard to say that they are all doing well or not good enough. But I can say all Deaf children enjoying their schooling in Deaf and hearing community.” That seems to be an universal response.