Hong Kong schools

We can learn from relaxed, happy system in international schools, Hong Kong education chief says

Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung notes that such schools do better in reduced drilling for students, as well as developing their interest in learning

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 July, 2017, 1:03pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 July, 2017, 10:08pm

Hong Kong’s education system could be more like that of international schools where students benefit from low-pressure and happy learning environments, the city’s new education minister said on Thursday.

Kevin Yeung Yun-hung also said that the government would review the ailing role of associate degree courses and how this had been received by industries before deciding whether to extend tuition fee subsidies to cover them.

Speaking on an RTHK programme on Thursday, Yeung, whose two children went to an international school, denied that he had no confidence in the local education system.

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He said his children had studied in Australia when he was posted there, so upon their return to Hong Kong, out of consistency, he decided to send them to an international school.

“I don’t think that Hong Kong’s education system is worse than that of other countries,” Yeung said. “But there are areas of [Western style education] that we can learn from. International schools do better in areas such as reducing drilling and developing children’s interests in learning.

“I hope our education system can achieve this in future.”

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Yeung’s comments came after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced a HK$5 billion policy package for schools and tertiary institutions.

Among other moves, HK$1.5 billion will be used to increase the teacher-to-class ratio by 0.1, meaning a school with 30 classes would get three more teachers.

For secondary school graduates, HK$1.2 billion will be used to subsidise students pursuing full-time self-financing degree programmes, with 39,000 students each receiving HK$30,000 a year.

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There has been criticism that the subsidy would not go to students in associate degree programmes, which target specific fields of study after secondary school and require less time to obtain while providing the next step to employment or further education.

Yeung said most of these students would choose to continue their studies in degree courses, by which time they would be able to receive subsidies.

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Many associate degree programmes have suffered from dipping numbers of applicants due to high tuition fees and low recognition in the private sector, especially after the increasing popularity of self-financing degree courses.

Yeung said the government would review the role of associate degree courses, adding that rolling out subsidies now would encourage more students to enter these programmes before the review could be completed.

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During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit in Hong Kong last week, he called for the strengthening of national education.

Building on Xi’s remarks, Yeung said Hong Kong people, as a part of China, needed to know more about the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, as well as the national constitution.

He said the government would discuss with the education sector on how to achieve this properly.

With a majority of positive views on the education package from across the political spectrum, Yeung said he hoped the Legislative Council would approve the funding request as soon as possible.