44 minus 11 equals education shake-up

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 May, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 May, 1998, 12:00am

At least 11 advisory bodies may disappear under a plan to streamline the education sector, the Government said yesterday.

Most of the remaining 33 will survive, with the Education Commission - chaired by Executive Councillor Antony Leung Kam-chung - taking a leading role.

To ensure the commission's independence, the Secretary of Education and Manpower should no longer be a member, it was recommended.

The deputy secretary, Yeung Lap-moon, released the report on education-related executive and advisory bodies yesterday, for a three-week consultation.

He said the Government planned to tighten supervision and communication with advisory bodies.

Not all their roles and functions were clear and sometimes they overlapped, he said.

Some of the 44 education-related executive and advisory bodies are answerable to the Director of Education and others to the Secretary for Education and Manpower.

'We greatly cherish the sense of partnership with which advisory bodies have worked with the administration, and will ensure that this partnership is enhanced,' Mr Yeung said.

'But we wish to strengthen the functions of these bodies by rationalising their inter-relationships, clarifying their function and introducing more co-ordination into the overall structure.' It was proposed that 11 of the executive and advisory bodies be dissolved initially, and more be dissolved after the setting up of a General Teaching Council.

Mr Yeung said the bodies earmarked for scrapping had completed their missions and their work could be transferred to others.

The remaining bodies would be required to submit periodic reports on their work progress to the Government, increasing their accountability.

Copies of the reports would be submitted to the Education Commission, allowing it to 'piece together a holistic picture of the overall quality of education'.

The Government may also upgrade the status of the Board of Education, making it directly responsible to the Government instead of the Director of Education.

The review, conducted by three international education experts, was recommended by the Education Commission and backed by the Chief Executive in his first policy address last year.

Professor Cheng Kai-ming, one of three experts to conduct the review, said he was pleased the Government had accepted most of the recommendations.

He understood some proposals - such as full-time secretariat support for each advisory body as well as a three-year budget forecast - were difficult to achieve in the short-term. The panels that may be dissolved are: The Board of Education sub-committee on pre-primary education; Board of Education sub-committee on special education; and Board of Education sub-committee on review of school education.

The Appeals Board (Education); Board of Review (Education); Education Research Section Policy Committee; and Advisory Committee on the Sales and Distribution of the Hong Kong Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children.

The Advisory Committee on School Guidance, Discipline and Support Services; Private Schools Review Committee; Advisory Committee on School Management Initiative; and Advisory Committee on School Administration and Finance.