AN OVERSEAS one-year degree programme on education training to be offered to Hongkong students next academic year is likely to help ease the acute manpower shortage in schools. The in-service full-time Bachelor of Education, provided by the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, has been recognised by the Hongkong government. Non-graduate teachers holding diploma certificates will be upgraded to graduate teachers in senior secondary and matriculation classes after finishing the programme. This will help fulfil the target suggested by the Education Commission in its fifth report of having 35 per cent of primary school teachers being upgraded to graduate status by the year 2007. Students of the programme are required to complete 96 credits in subjects like Contemporary Issue in Education, Studies in Education, Teachers and the Curriculum, and Foundations of Teacher-Librarianship. Applicants should have a three-year diploma of education and have at least a year's teaching experience. Those who have finished a two-year educational training course and have three years' teaching experience can also apply but they need to study four additional subjects on educational theories in the university. The programme will cover two semesters; students are admitted in February and July. The school fee is A$9,500 (about HK$50,000) a year while the living cost is A$30,000 (about HK$80,000). Mr Ronald Lau Yiu-fai, adviser of the programme in Hongkong, expects the programme to be popular with teachers. ''The programme benefits both teachers and schools. Teachers can have their status and salary raised and schools have their teaching standard upgraded,'' he said. ''Although the teachers have to take a year off, their gain in the future will be greater than their loss. Schools should encourage staff who have not attained the degree level to join the programme.'' Similar courses are popular in Britain and attract lots of Hongkong students, but Mr Lau believes Australia will be another popular choice because of its lower living cost and similar weather to Hongkong. Non-graduate teachers, who obtain their diploma in the colleges of education, are allowed to teach only in primary and junior secondary schools. Statistics show there are over 18,000 primary school teachers last school year and only 2.3 per cent of them are degree-holders. To raise teaching standards, the Government is planning to set up a new Institute of Education to offer degree courses, and an Advanced Teachers' Certificate Course to help non-graduate teachers obtain a higher qualification. The Queensland University of Technology also offers master and doctoral programmes on teaching. They include the Master of Education (Coursework/Research), Master of Education (Research), Doctor of Education and Doctor of Philosophy. There are graduate diplomas in Education Management, Computer Education, and Teacher-Librarianship. A seminar on the above courses will be held at Room 607, Hongkong Convention and Exhibition Centre, on February 13. For details, call Mr Lau on 755-6940.