Education in MacauEducation in Macau experienced slow progress before the middle of the twentieth century. Primary education was gradually popularized from the 1960s onwards, and the development of secondary and higher education followed. The economy of Macau was developing fast in the following two decades, which induced changes in the structure of society and families. As a result, education in Macau boomed, particularly primary.

Since the Macau Special Administrative Region of China was set up in December 1999, the government has provided 15 years compulsory education, comprised of three years of kindergarten followed by primary and secondary education each of six years. Out of 77 secondary schools in Macau, 65 offer free education. There are 10 accredited institutions for higher education in Macau, offering more than 250 academic programs.

Compared to China and other nations, education in Macau displays special features of its own. The whole society in Macau pays high attention to education, comprehensive curricula and professional development. Students are open to bilingual education and extracurricular activities.

While education in Macau is fast developing and has made great achievements, a few existing problems are also transparent. Before free and compulsory education was extended to 15 years in Macau, only 35.3 percent of the employed population had received a high school education.

Despite the overall education level of the labor force gradually improving in the past decade, in-grade retention rates are relatively high in Macao. As reported in 2013, the retention rate in junior middle school was as high as 15 percent; a previous study showed that 76 percent of senior high school graduates had been retained at some stage.

Tertiary education in Macau is also far from problem-free. The system of tertiary education is not consistent with other levels of education; performance appraisal in universities exists in name only. Due to the high cost of tuition in Macau, student resources and living space and restrictive. Meanwhile, more than 70 percent of students choose the major of economy and business management, which leads to an unbalanced allocation of educational resources. This is harmful to the healthy growth of these institutions in the long run.

In 2017, the government launched the third phase of its Continuing Education Development Plan in Macao. For tertiary education, the corresponding services office kept on facilitating a variety of external cooperation projects within that field, and seek reinforced collaboration from China inland.

To sum up, the current education in Macau has great potential for future improvement. Kindergarten education urges more attention from governmental and public support, and there is a need for better integration of all levels of education. Meanwhile, the structure of tertiary subjects also requires adjustment to meet the economic development strategy with diversity in this region.

– Xin Gao

Hunger in MacauColonized by the Portuguese in the 16th century, Macau was the first European settlement in the Far East. Located in Eastern Asia, Macau borders the South China Sea and China. Although noted as a wealthy country, is hunger in Macau a problem?

Known as the “Las Vegas of the East” and with a GDP per capita more than double that of the United Kingdom, Macau is listed as the world’s third wealthiest city behind Luxembourg and Qatar, according to the International Monetary Fund.

With a population around 600,000 people, Macau’s life expectancy is at 84.5 years. For the male population, it is noted that 15.8 percent were overweight, while 18.8 percent were obese. Significantly more men than women aged 25-44 years were overweight and obese in Macau. Although Asia is noted as the continent with the most hunger issues, hunger in Macau is seen as a country with a small problem of malnutrition, but a bigger problem of overeating.

Local government statistics say that only 2.3 percent of Macau’s population lives in poverty, but the percentage is based on income and does not take into account the high cost of living. With the cost of living rising and wages staying the same, the rising costs have forced some to leave the country to seek a cheaper life in China.

While Macau’s poor are ignored and suffer, big businesses flourish. Instead of building houses and helping the poor, the government allocates more money to the gambling business. It is estimated that 10 percent of the population lives in poverty, with 7 percent struggling to fulfill basic needs such as food.

According to the Macau Daily Times, Macau Oxfam does not simply offer food and other resources to those in need, it also provides them with seeds and teaches them how to get out of the poverty cycle.

Although the country has yet to take action in recognizing hunger in Macau and helping their own, it has formed the organization Macau Famine. This includes a series of educational and fundraising activities based on the year’s theme. Generous donations are used to support World Vision’s work in Asian countries by providing health and nutrition assistance for children and families.

Stefanie Podosek

Poverty in Macau
Macau, the “Las Vegas of the East,” has been prevalent in recent global news, especially as the residence of Kim Jong Nam, the North Korean leader’s brother who was poisoned in a Kuala Lumpur airport several weeks ago. Behind the façade of a glitzy, Asian gambling den where wealthy men make and squander their fortunes, many people are living in poverty in Macau.

Government officials boast that the rate of poverty in Macau is a mere 2.3 percent of the population. They cite rapid economic development as the reason for this low number, however, through some investigating, organizations such as Caritas Macau have discovered that this number is not entirely accurate.

The percentage does not account for the sky-high cost of living in Macau, and lower wages are often not enough to live comfortably. There are plenty of wealthy people in Macau, but even those who are comparatively poorer have more money than impoverished people elsewhere in the world.

When the high cost of living is taken into account, the number of people living in poverty in Macau jumps up to 10 percent.

A Hard-Working Population

In an interview with The Guardian, one woman at the MGM Macau detailed her struggle as a single mother while working as a cook. Others living in poverty in Macau are forced to leave their homes and find jobs elsewhere in China.

Most of the blame falls on corrupt government officials, who are always looking for opportunities to expand the economic potential to Macau. Government funding is often poured into building developments for the gambling industry instead of helping the poorest in Macau.

It is hopeful that if the government allocated more funding to explicitly help the poor, a significant and more accurate change in the percentage of those living in poverty would occur.

Mary Grace Costa

Photo: Flickr