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Thursday, October 12, 2000, updated at 08:43(GMT+8)

Blueprint Drafted to Develop Education in HK

Tung Chee Hwa, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), presented a blueprint for developing education in his annual policy address delivered Wednesday.

"Our education policy is at the very core of our social policy.And our most important long-term social investment is in education," Tung said.

Tung illustrated the blueprint in several aspects including early childhood education, school education, tertiary education, continuing education and building of a professional teaching force.

According to the blueprint, the HKSAR government intends to relax the requirements of the Kindergarten Fee Remission Scheme from this school year onwards to benefit more families.

At the same time, it will ask schools to strengthen their quality assurance and to be more transparent in their operations so that the quality of teaching will be enhanced.

To upgrade the quality of teachers, the entry requirements of all newly appointed kindergarten teachers will be raised.

They will need five passes in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination, including Chinese and English, and will be required to complete at least one year of per-service training.

The ratio of teachers to pupils for half-day and whole-day schooling will both be improved from 1:30 and 1:20 respectively to 1:15 by stages within three years.

Speaking of school education, Tung said that the government plans to provide about 6,000 more subsidized school places before the 2003-2004 school year to achieve the goal that all the secondary 3 students from public sector schools who are capable and want to continue with their studies will be provided with subsidized Secondary 4 places or vocational training.

At present, only 85 percent of Secondary 3 students from public sector schools have subsidized Secondary 4 places, while another 5 percent receive subsidized vocational training.

The government will increase funding for school education, encourage moral and civic education and support parent education.

For the tertiary education, Tung set an objective that within ten years, 60 percent of Hong Kong's senior secondary school leavers will receive tertiary education.

"By then, we will need to provide about 28,000 additional places for higher education, bringing the total number to around 55,000," he said.

As education is the most important long-term investment, the HKSAR government is determined to continue to provide the necessary resources, Tung said.

He said that full implementation of all the plans he has outlined will increase the HKSAR government's annual recurrent expenditure on education by about 2 billion HK dollars (256 million U.S. dollars).

Total spending on education this financial year amounts to 54.4 billion HK dollars (7 billion U.S. dollars), a jump of 43 percent compared to that before Hong Kong's return to China. It now represents 4.25 percent of the HKSAR's Gross Domestic Product.

"Education in the 21st century should be broad and holistic. Everyone has a role to play. And, I call on the whole community to work together with the government to nurture a new generation of

Hong Kong citizens," Tung concluded.

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Tung Chee Hwa, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), presented a blueprint for developing education in his annual policy address delivered Wednesday.

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