PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 December, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 December, 2000, 12:00am

Physical education students joined in the hoopla at the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd) Open Day last weekend. The Tai Po-based institution is preparing to expand its programmes to tap a vast potential market for higher education.

In response to the Government's plan to provide higher education for 60 per cent of secondary school graduates in 10 years, HKIEd is looking to introduce associate degree programmes offered by its Division of Continuing Professional Education next September.

Dr Edwin Wong King-por, head of the division, said most of the associate degrees would be aimed at 'educational para-professionals' or people interested in working in the education sector, and not necessarily teaching.

There is currently a shortage of programmes for such professionals, he said, from teacher and library assistants to technical support staff from computer labs, curriculum design assistants and book publishers. The quality of the workforce will improve with more training.

The HKIEd plays a pivotal role in the training of teachers at both pre-service and in-service levels. The number of teachers enrolled in its continuing education programmes, including certificate-bearing courses ranging from information technology to Putonghua, English, and curriculum design, has been on the rise, added Dr Wong.

A surge is expected in the number of enrolments in short courses offered under the Professional Development Programme. Dr Wong said enrolment could reach 30,000 this year, up from 18,000 last year.