Many schools in Hong Kong are actively promoting diversity learning, providing students with the opportunity to cultivate their individual strengths, rather than solely focusing on attaining a certificate. Despite these efforts, the public examination system continues to subject local students to unavoidable stress and competition. Kiva, a non-Chinese speaking (NCS) student studying in Hong Kong since primary school, is further burdened by extraordinary academic stress.

An inevitable journey for NCS students?

Kiva, whose parents are both Nepalis, has been studying in Hong Kong since primary school. As he could neither understand nor speak Cantonese, his campus life was filled with obstacles. In addition to his teachers’ inability to cater to the needs of NCS students, Kiva also had trouble communicating with his Chinese-speaking classmates, which limited his social circle at school and hindered his progress in learning Chinese. Kiva’s overall experience in primary school was far from enjoyable, with teachers labelling him as a troublemaker. Fortunately, things took a positive turn when he enrolled in Salesians of Don Bosco Ng Siu Mui Secondary School, where NCS students comprise up to 30% of the student population. Recognising the unique needs of students like Kiva, the school has implemented tailored educational programmes to address their specific challenges. Apart from comprehensive academic support, the school offered opportunities for Kiva to participate in different competitions and learning experiences. The inclusive and diverse culture on campus has gradually reshaped Kiva’s attitude towards school, empowering him to become a self-disciplined learner.

Kiva’s team won an award in his school’s film competition, in which he took on the roles of narrator and screenwriter.

Unyielding determination amidst failure

Although Kiva had obtained a decent overall score in the DSE, he fell short of the university admission requirements as he failed Mathematics and Chemistry. Not only was he determined to pursue higher education, but he also did not want to disappoint his family. To secure brighter prospects for the future, he decided to repeat Form Six and give the DSE another try.

After setting his mind on retaking the DSE, Kiva started practising past papers every day. Moreover, Salesians of Don Bosco Ng Siu Mui Secondary School went the extra mile to assign a chemistry teacher to give him additional lessons on weekends. Initially fuelled by motivation, Kiva faced a roadblock after three months. A teacher provided him with emotional counselling and reassured him that it is common for DSE retakers to suffer self-doubt. Despite feeling discouraged at times, Kiva’s aspiration to attend university and his family’s expectations pushed him to recalibrate his mindset and continue to work hard.

Kiva’s aspiration to attend university and his family’s expectations pushed him to recalibrate his mindset and continue to work hard.

After school, Kiva would stay in the study room until 8pm every day. As a retaker, he must also adapt to new classmates and classrooms. Fortunately, he was able to make new study partners and support each other in exam preparation.

A satisfactory score on the second attempt

the first time. However, he felt more confident the second time and made sure to double-check his answers carefully. Fortunately, his hard work paid off, as he achieved a Level Two in Mathematics, a Level Three in Chemistry and an impressive Level Five in English. He has made significant progress within merely one year thanks to tremendous self-discipline. He would keep distractions such as his phone or tablet away from his desk, and always keep track of time to stay on schedule. Once hesitant about asking teachers for help, he was later on inspired by encouraging teachers and benefited from seeking answers and guidance.

Kiva took the DSE for the first time during the pandemic, when most classes were conducted online. The resumption of face-to-face classes after the pandemic has also contributed to Kiva’s satisfactory performance in the DSE.

Kiva graduated with satisfactory results after studying at Salesians of Don Bosco Ng Siu Mui Secondary School for seven years.

Dream of becoming a teacher

Kiva has received conditional offers from the Hang Seng University of Hong Kong for the Bachelor of Arts in English, as well as HKU SPACE for the Associate of Science. He is more interested in language-related disciplines and dreams of becoming a teacher in the future. He also aspires to be a pilot and wishes to delve deeper into this hobby alongside his language studies. In the end, even if he does not get to pursue a career in language-related industries, Kiva hopes to embrace a slash career path and shine in multiple fields. Due to the pandemic, Kiva was unable to attend the information days at his target schools, leaving him with limited knowledge about university life, yet he is ready to fully indulge himself in his new adventure as a university student.

Beyond Kiva’s academic pursuits, he also enjoys playing the piano in his spare time.

As an NCS student who has completed primary and secondary education in Hong Kong, Kiva has made numerous adjustments in his mindset and worked extremely hard to reach where he is now. He encourages other NCS students not to be restricted by their family’s expectations and, most importantly, to listen to themselves and focus on doing what they truly love. He emphasises that staying mentally healthy is of utmost importance and advises his fellow NCS students to seek help from others and to confide in friends or people around them. Hopefully, Kiva’s experiences can inspire other struggling students and fuel them to deal with setbacks.