SIXTY outstanding primary students begin an intensive training course today to explore their special talents. The programme, organised by the Gifted Education Council, is tailored for children between nine and 11 years old with an intelligence quotient (IQ) of over 125. The programme will be built around the theme, ''Save Planet Earth'', to give the course colour and added interest. Topics for discussion vary from environment, ecological system and atmospheric cycle, to the green house effect and the ozone layer. Council chairman Mr Rex Li Ip-fu said the programme had received ''quite a good response'', with over 230 children signing up. To join the programme, applicants had to have a strong academic record and take a series of tests, including a creativity test, creative writing and Raven's Progressive Matrices. ''We originally offered 40 places, but, with the good response and high standard, we decided to add more places,'' Mr Li said. ''Most of the successful applicants were found to have an IQ of over 130, although we required only 125.'' Participants of the course, which is free of charge, will take six intensive classes (of 11/2 hours each) spread over three weeks, under specially trained teachers. The classes will adopt a ''discovery approach'', making use of a stimulating variety of learning exercises, such as tutorials, discussions, lectures, library visits, research, field trips, projects and presentations. The course will be rounded off with a ''follow up'' programme in line with the children's special abilities. ''Gifted children are no longer seen as just a privileged elite but as valuable local and global assets,'' Mr Li said. ''The Education Department is conducting research on gifted education, and a pilot scheme on this special area will be drawn up later. ''We hope more children will benefit from this kind of special education, so their talents could be identified and brought to the fore. The Gifted Education Council may later approach the department to see if we can help with the scheme,'' he added. The council, a non-profit making organisation of educationists, school principals and teachers, was set up in January 1989 to lobby for better provision for gifted children. The council, together with the World Council on Gifted and Talented Children which has a network of over 50 countries, will hold an international conference on gifted education in Hongkong in 1995. The conference, held once every two years, will be held in Toronto, Canada this year, from August 8 to 13. Hongkong will send five outstanding secondary school students as representatives.