Some suggestions for HK's education

Updated: 2013-01-16 05:59

By Ho Hon Kuen (HK Edition)

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I believe that Hong Kong's future depends on proper educational planning. No matter what the chief executive has planned for education in Hong Kong in his 2013 policy address, here are some important suggestions to which I hope our government will pay heed:

I. Quality education for a prosperous city

All district development sections of Regional Education Offices (REOs) should take responsibility for organizing Regional Education Committees to conduct important consultations on a regular basis. A decision-making group focusing on the launch of "Teaching-friendly" policies should be established to alleviate difficult issues faced by different schools. It is intended for strengthening the role of REOs as a bridge so that the difficulties in frontline schools will be communicated to the authorities.

With the current reserve of up to HK$6 billion, the Quality Education Fund (QEF) should maximize its effectiveness in improving the entire education system. Over the past few years, however, the confusing project assessment and approval criteria and the mixed standard of assessors for the QEF have all acted as deterrents to a significant number of high-quality funding proposals. This may explain why some effective projects were discontinued. In view of this, the government should take the initiative to evaluate the operation of the QEF and reform its practices.

II. Education policies

The current Inclusive Education in primary and secondary schools has to be reviewed thoroughly. There is little value in aiming high in formulating policies, if the level of achievement is to prove low. An overall increase in Student Counseling Resources and the establishment of "One School, One Medical Staff" policy are necessary pre-requisites if there is to be Inclusive Education for children with special educational needs regardless of their disability.

Comprehensive reviews are needed bringing together frontline teachers and representatives of education groups. School-based Assessment (SBA) has to be streamlined as well as subject to school-based decisions on adoption. The content of the whole New Senior Secondary (NSS) Curriculum and the assessment design based on the selection of elites fall short of the majority of student population's standard and their general expectation of pursing undergraduate studies. The assessment contents of the most badly hit subjects such as Chinese Language, Liberal Studies, Business, Accounting and Financial Studies (BAFS), Chinese History and Physics etc have to be extensively slashed without further delay.

The Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) and the Pre-Secondary 1 Hong Kong Attainment Test have to be merged to release the learning and teaching capacity for both students and teachers. It is also necessary to increase the allocation of funding for the support of administration in primary schools and the permanent teaching posts in the regular staff establishment.

III Betterment of teachers' rights

To relieve teachers' pressure from work and better utilize manpower and resources, the government must extend the regular teaching positions for primary and secondary schools and offer current contract teachers permanent posts. It is necessary to offer all primary and secondary teachers graduate posts under the teaching staff establishment.

The practice of "One-year's fully-paid study leave" should be resumed for teachers with long-term service (say 10 years or above) and the "Teachers' No-pay Extended Leave" scheme has to be introduced for younger teachers to help them advance their professional development. The relaunch of the "Mortgage Interest Subsidy Scheme" is expected to assist teachers in purchasing their own homes.

The author is vice-chairman of Education Convergence.

(HK Edition 01/16/2013 page4)