Non-Chinese Speaking (NCS) Students

The VTC offers vocational education and training programmes to eligible persons irrespective of race or ethnic origin. Recently, the number of Non-Chinese Speaking (NCS) students , who have enrolled in various VTC programmes, has increased tremendously. The students come from various countries and ethnic groups and have different cultural background, languages, characteristics and learning-styles. This poses new challenges to the frontline teachers and colleagues teaching and handling them. In order to assist both the novice and experienced teachers to adapt to this change, a Learning Community is formed. This web area serves as a platform for them and all the concerned and interested teachers to exchange and communicate their expertise and experience in teaching the NCS students.

Below are some resources for understanding the culture of NCS students and useful links to some related social service agencies. Click on the below to get into the details:

Useful links / Resources

List of NCS Campus Coordinators

VTC Academic Handbook – 11.2.4 Support for non-Chinese Speaking (NCS) Students  

Characteristics of NCS Students from Pakistan


  • Urdu is the official language of Pakistan. 
  • Women generally hug and kiss and men shake hands with each other in greeting. 


  • Islam is practised by the majority of Pakistanis and governs their personal, political, economic and legal activities. 
  • Muslims are obliged to pray five times a day – at dawn, at noon, in the afternoon, at sunset and in the evening. 
  • All Muslims must fast from dawn to dusk during the holy month of Ramadan (6 hours per day). Fasting includes no eating, drinking, smoking and even gum chewing. 

Culture and Custom 

  • Pakistan is a hierarchical society; Pakistani people gain more respect if they are the elderly or hold a high position in the society. 
  • Even the well educated people in Pakistan respect the elderly since they are believed to be wiser. 
  • Titles are very important and denote respect. You are expected to use a person's title and his/her surname until invited to use his/her first name. 
  • “Halal” means permitted or lawful. Halal foods are foods that are allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines. 
  • Strict boundary exists between men and women. 
  • Headgears are worn by Muslim women. 
  • Pakistani is not allowed to join the social activities with people of opposite sex. They will only greet people of the same sex. However, the middle class can exchange greetings with people of the opposite sex.

Characteristics of NCS Students from India


  • Most Indians use Hindi at home. 
  • Handshaking between men and women is commonly found in Indian. If you are uncertain, wait for them to extend their hand. 


  • Sikhism is a monotheistic religion in the Punjab region, India. 
  • Men and women are equal in all aspects. 

Culture and Custom

  • Sikh people do not eat beef and pork and many are vegetarians. 
  • Sikh people like to sit on the floor and eat with right hand. 
  • Sikh people do not smoke and drink alcohol. 

Characteristics of NCS Students from Nepal


The official language of Nepal is Nepali, which Nepalese usually speak. 


  • Hinduism is the dominant religion in Nepal. It includes Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Smartism among numerous other traditions. 
  • Buddhism is also popular in Nepal.   

  • Culture and Custom 
    • The culture has many symbols from Hindu and Buddhist sources. 
    • Hindus do not eat pork and beef. 
    • Hindus who are non-vegetarians like to eat lamb, chicken and fish. 
    • Men do not touch women in public. 
    • Music is associated with most events in Nepal; Nepalese like music very much. 
    • Nepalese like to eat with right hands. Left hands are used for cleaning oneself after going to the toilet. 
    • Nepalese like to sit on the floor.

    Some social service agencies for NCS groups
    Below are some agencies providing support to NCS groups.

    Hong Kong Christian Service – Centre for Harmony and Enhancement of Ethnic Minority Residents (CHEER)

    Hong Kong Unison 

    International Social Service Support Service Centre for Ethnic Minorities – HOPE Centre


    Question: There are many NCS Students speaking fluent Cantonese. What are the reasons for using English as Medium of Instruction (MOI)? Why should we provide dedicated programme for the NCS Students?
    Answer: Although many NCS Students (especially S.6) have acquired certain level of Chinese proficiency (such as Grade A in Chinese subject (GCSE)), the level they acquired is equivalent to primary level. There is a need for using English as MOI and organizing a dedicated programme for them.

    Question:Which non-Chinese ethnics group has the highest population in Hong Kong?
    Answer: 8.0% (584,383) of total population 


    (Source: Census 2016)

    Question: Are they Hong Kong residents?
    Answer: Yes, they are Hong Kong residents and deserve all rights as Hong Kong residents. Many non-Chinese ethnic groups have stayed in Hong Kong for many years. Some of them were born in Hong Kong. Some non-Chinese ethnic families have settled in Hong Kong for many generations.

    Question: Why did they come to Hong Kong?
    Answer: They have been part of Hong Kong since the early colonial times.

    Question: What are the main languages of the non-Chinese ethnic groups?

    EthnicityMain languages
    IndianHindi, Punjabi, Tamil
    PakistaniUrdu, Pashto, Punjabi(Read Arabic)
    IndonesianBahasa(Read Arabic)

    Question: Why do some men of non-Chinese ethnic groups wearing turbans?
    Answer: A person who believes in Sikhism is called Sikh. Sikh men (most of them are Indian) wear turbans to fulfill their obligations. Kesh, one of the 5Ks (5 articles of faith that baptized Sikh are obliged to wear at all times) is uncut hair tied and wrapped in the Sikh Turban. The 5 Ks of Sikhism are included in the following:

    The 5 Ks of Sikhism

    Question: Why do some women of non-Chinese ethnic groups wear long sleeves even in summer and cover themselves under layers of garments?

    Answer: That style of dress is quite typical for Muslim women. Muslim Women often dress themselves according to the hijab, which can be defined as a modest dressing that covers everything the face and hands in public. Many Pakistani and Indonesian women in Hong Kong follow this dress code, but actual practices differ among individual families (living in Hong Kong for many years/born in Hong Kong) or religious practice.  

    Question: What is the Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO)?
    Answer: The Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO) is an anti-discrimination law enacted in July 2008 and effective since 10 July 2009 to protect people against discrimination, harassment and vilification on the ground of their race. Under the RDO, it is unlawful to discriminate, harass or vilify a person on the ground of his/her race. 

    (Source: Equal Opportunities Commission)

    Question:What are the different forms of racial discrimination?
    1. Direct discrimination
    Direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favorably than another under comparable circumstances because of his/her or his/her near relative's race. It is also direct discrimination to segregate a person on the basis of his/her race. 

    2. Indirect discrimination
    Indirect discrimination occurs when a same requirement (rule, policy, practice, criterion or procedure) or condition, which cannot be justified on non-racial grounds, is applied equally on people of different races but which has an unfair effect on a particular group because (i) only a small proportion of people from that racial group can meet that requirement compared to the proportion of people of other racial groups, and/or (ii) the condition is to the detriment of the persons of that particular group because they cannot meet it. 

    3. Racial harassment
    If a person engages in an unwelcome, abusive, insulting or offensive behavior because of another person's or his/her near relative's race, which makes him feel threatened, humiliated or embarrassed then it is racial harassment. Racial harassment can be in any form—physical, visual, verbal or non-verbal—and even a single incident may constitute racial harassment. It also occurs if a person creates a racially hostile environment for another person because of his/her or his/her near relative's race. 

    4. Racial vilification
    It is an activity in public which incites hatred, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of a person because of his/her race. Any racist incitement involving threat of physical harm to persons or their property or premises is considered serious vilification and is liable for fine to a maximum of $100,000 and imprisonment for a maximum of two years. 
    (Source: Equal Opportunities Commission)