Secondary heads want selection details to help their curriculum reform
School principals have called on universities to reveal their criteria for future student admissions so they can prepare for senior secondary curriculum reform.
The government is due to release a consultation paper on arrangements for the new three-year senior secondary and four-year university system later this year.
It will cover the design blueprint, timetable for implementation and financial arrangements. Included will be proposals for the compulsory liberal studies subject for senior secondary students.
Future senior-form students will have to take two or three elective subjects in addition to the required subjects of Chinese, English and mathematics, said Catherine Chan Ka-ki, Principal Assistant Secretary (Curriculum Development) of the Education and Manpower Bureau.
She was speaking at a forum held at City University on universities' role in curriculum reform this week. At the forum, attended by more than 100 principals and academics, school principals voiced their concerns about subject choices.
'We need to know which subjects students need to pass to be accepted for various university programmes. For example, do they have to pass liberal studies to enrol in a science programme? Questions like this reflect the crux of the issue because most schools are trying to prepare their students for entering university,' said Ieong Iok-lon, principal of Yan Chai Hospital Tung Chi Ying Memorial Secondary School.
He echoed the views of other principals that university admissions criteria often shaped school curricula. 'Getting into university gives students a purpose for studying, though there are many who do not get into any. Universities should reveal their future admission criteria before the consultation paper is released,' said Lo Chi-wing, career master at St Louis School.
The principal of St Joseph's College, Leung Cheung-hing, said many of his counterparts were worried that the limited range of electives could hamper students' chances.
'With the limited range of subjects, students who fail to get into medicine may not be able to enrol in architecture or engineering if they have not done the subjects required for those courses. It would be good if they can take four electives,' he said.
The format of the examination on liberal studies and what the subject entailed should be revealed early, he added. 'Many teachers have asked who will teach the subject and how it should be taught.'
Schools would need to restructure their provision of subjects under the new system but this could be done only with the knowledge of admission requirements for various programmes, said Subsidised Secondary Schools Council chairman Anisa Chan Wong Lai-kuen.
'There should be dialogue between universities and schools, but there has not been any since last summer. The EMB should look into the dialogue issue,' she said.
The EMB's Dr Chan said the consultation paper would include proposals relating to university admissions. 'We will discuss with universities and the key faculties. Making changes in university and senior secondary curriculum is an interactive process,' she said.
CityU vice president Wong Yuk-shan agreed that admission mechanisms must be adjusted in line with the new curriculum. 'Institutions should meet to discuss the issue. University teachers too should assist schools with their curriculum design.'