Dr Betty Chan Po-king is Director of the Yew Chung Education Foundation, which includes Yew Chung International Schools located in Hong Kong, mainland China and Silicon Valley, USA as well as the Hong Kong-based Yew Chung Community College.
Growing from the first school founded in Hong Kong by Dr Chan’s mother Madam Tsang Chor-hang in 1932, Yew Chung International Schools are based on a philosophy of combining the best elements of Eastern and Western traditions and practices. Not only do they operate a distinctive bilingual and co-cultural model of education through a system of co-teaching (based on all early childhood and primary classrooms being equally led by one western and one Chinese teacher): all Yew Chung International Schools are jointly led and managed by two Co-Principals, one Western and one Chinese.
As a specialist in Early Childhood Education, Dr Chan is a founder member of the Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association (PECERA). In 2006 she established PECERA’s Hong Kong chapter, for which she serves as president, and since 2012 she has also been president of PECERA International. Dr Chan serves or has served on many committees and boards, including roles as Chair of the Hong Kong-based Sir Jack Cater Scholarship Fund Selection Committee, Chairman of the Child Education and Community Services Discipline Board of the Vocational Training Council, and Advisor to the Center for Child Development at Hong Kong Baptist University. Also in Hong Kong she is a member of the Advisory Committee on Teacher Education and Qualifications (ACTEQ) and a member of the Appeals Board (Education). Dr Chan’s work has been recognised by the award of the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, and the award of an Honorary Fellowship by the Hong Kong Institute of Education.
Internationally, Dr Chan is widely known for her promotion of international education and for her support for developing links between East and West. Her role as Director of the Yew Chung Education Foundation is complemented by her Director’s role with the Yew Wah Education Foundation through which she has, for instance, been instrumental in establishing a residential centre in Somerset which acts as a base for Chinese students to undertake cultural and educational visits to England. Associated links developed with Haygrove School in Bridgwater led to the 2013 opening of a new ‘Friendship Centre’ at Haygrove to facilitate development of links including exchange visits by Haygrove and Yew Wah students and staff.
Links between Dr Chan and the University of Bath, arising from our shared interest in international education, have existed now for 15 years or more. Department of Education academic staff have been keynote speakers at international conferences hosted by Dr Chan in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai, and she has supported Yew Chung teachers to study on the Department of Education’s MA in Education programme. Most recently, colleagues from Bath have been funded by Dr Chan to research the implementation of Yew Chung’s international education mission across its network of schools. Also strongly supported by Dr Chan has been the Alliance for International Education – a worldwide organisation which owes its origins to work undertaken by the Centre for the study of Education in an International Context at the University of Bath, sharing a commitment to the promotion of international education and intercultural understanding. A keynote speaker at the 2004 Alliance for International Education conference held in Düsseldorf, Dr Chan subsequently oversaw the establishment of a China chapter of the Alliance, and in 2006 the Alliance for International Education conference was hosted by Yew Chung International School Shanghai. She continues to serve as Chairperson of AIE China, in which connection she has organised biennial local conferences in Huangshan, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing.
Through her commitment to promoting, and supporting through education, the development of greater understanding between East and West, and indeed between those of different cultural backgrounds more widely, Dr Chan has demonstrated leadership in an increasingly important area of international significance.
Dr Mary Hayden