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Thursday, February 15, 2001, updated at 07:42(GMT+8)

HK Committed to Education Reform

Education has been at the top of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government's agenda and the government will carry on its education reforms to meet new challenges in the new era, an official said Wednesday.

Addressing the International Forum on Education Reforms, Hong Kong's Director of Education Cheung Kin-chung said Hong Kong's education has seen much success in the past, however, in a new era where many new changes and challenges emerge, more should be done to improve Hong Kong's education.

To prepare the young generation to more effectively cope with the challenges in the new era, Hong Kong has embarked on education reforms to enhance individual's capacity to learn and to apply that learning, Cheung said.

Immediately after the establishment of the SAR, Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa tasked the Education Commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the education system with a view to drawing up a blueprint for the 21st Century, he said. Last October, Tung announced the acceptance of all the reform recommendations put forward by the commission.

Hong Kong's reform focuses on the academic structure, curricula and assessment mechanism and emphasizes capacity-building for changes, according to Cheung.

Cheung stressed the importance of enhancing learning opportunities, noting that all children should have access to the most appropriate learning opportunity to develop their potentials.

"Our first step in education reform is to remove unnecessary drillings and the pressure of high-stake public assessments in Primary 1 and Secondary 1 admission mechanisms so that our students will progress without these obstacles," he said.

To raise the general educational level of the population, Cheung said that starting from 2002-03 school year, all the Secondary 3 students who wish to continue their study will be given the opportunities to receive heavily subsidized Secondary 4 education or vocational training.

Meanwhile, the SAR government is committed to increasing gradually the provision of tertiary places in the coming ten years, with the aim of providing tertiary education for 60 percent of the young people in the appropriate age group.

As for reforming the curricula and teaching pedagogy, Cheung said the Curriculum Development Council will end its three-month public consultation soon on the specific arrangements of curricula reform under the theme 'Learning to Learn'.

"Schools and teachers are encouraged to refer to the curriculum framework and develop their own school-based teaching and learning programs according to the needs of their students," he said.

On the improvement of assessment mechanisms, Cheung said assessment should aim to reflect the effectiveness of teaching for the purpose of enhancing the effectiveness of learning.

"We encourage teachers to use formative assessment through a diversity of assessment tools to provide effective feedback that motivates and improves learning," he said.

Quality teaching is the key to learning effectiveness, Cheung said, stressing the importance of developing an outstanding and professional teaching force.

The government has provided an additional grant to schools and allows them the flexibility to put their resources to the best use for the purpose, he said.

As nurturing talents is an important social investment, Cheung said the government is firmly committed to investing in quality education.

Total expenditure in education in the 2000-01 financial year is estimated at 54.4 billion HK dollars (7 billion U.S. dollars), representing about 4.25 percent of gross domestic product or 22.3 percent of the total government expenditure.

The government will need to spend more to improve education, Cheung said, citing that the government has earmarked 800 million HK dollars (102 million dollars) this financial year to implement the priority reform measures.

The International Forum on Education Reforms, scheduled for February 14 to 16, has drawn renowned educators and policy-makers from countries across the Asia-Pacific region to share their initiatives, experience, findings and visions of education reforms.

The forum, sponsored by the Education Department of the HKSAR government, aimed to contribute to vision creation, knowledge advancement and policy-making in a new era where high technology and globalization have generated long lasting impacts on nearly every aspect of people's life.

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Education has been at the top of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government's agenda and the government will carry on its education reforms to meet new challenges in the new era, an official said Wednesday.

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