Education rethink could halt reforms

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 January, 1999, 12:00am

Education reforms might be slowed or halted in the wake of a rethink launched by the Education Commission on the aims of the system.

Commission chairman Antony Leung Kam-chung said a consensus was needed on the overall aims of education at its different stages - not just piecemeal changes. However, there was no intention to overhaul the system.

On Friday, the commission will publish a paper, to be open for public discussion until March 6. Tung Chee-hwa will officiate at a conference on the issue on Monday.

Based on the views collected, the commission will lay out policy options, translating the aims into measures concerning structure, curriculum and assessment systems.

Commission member Cheng Kai-ming, pro-vice-chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, said: 'The biggest achievement in education in the past 18 months is that everybody agrees we have a major crisis in education.

'We don't think our previous practice of publishing a report on certain reforms will work. It's not a question of how we implement some reforms, but what we really want.

'We are not aiming at making drastic changes. On the contrary, we might slow down or stop some of the present programme after re-examining our priorities.' Another member, Tai Hay-lap, principal of the Yan Oi Tong Tin Ka Ping Secondary School, said: 'Our situation is that, on one hand, we don't see the way forward but, on the other, we are being pushed from behind by ongoing reforms.

'We need to take stock of what we are doing and form a new queue.' Mr Tai said education should be 'student-oriented' to ensure pupils would ultimately benefit.

Secondly, each sector - schools, parents and the Government - should reaffirm their commitment to education rather than trading accusations against each other over policy confusion.

Mr Leung said undue emphasis on examination results was one of the problems, resulting in students being concerned about memorising facts rather than creativity and thinking.

Mr Leung said that among the priorities for reform were improving the standards of headmasters and teachers, structure and assessment review, language and the use of information technology.