Embracing the new curriculum

SCHOOLS still wary of the new Advanced-supplementary level (AS-Level) curriculum will benefit from further familiarisation when the Education Department offers six more teacher training courses, to be held from November to January.

The courses are funded out of a $2 million grant set aside by the department for running such courses in the 1994-95 financial year.

The department is launching the short-term training courses with the help of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and the Chinese University (CU).

Some 40 classes, at a cost of $6.5 million, have been held in the past two years to help teachers adjust to the new curriculum.

The new academic year will see at least six more courses, including two in Use of English, and one in Biology, Mathematics and Statistics, Applied Mathematics and History. All will be run by the HKU.

''We will continue the courses as the curriculum is still new to schools,'' said Mr Yung Sze-hung, the department's curriculum planning officer.

''So far schools seem to be offering more arts than science subjects in the AS-level curriculum. We may introduce more training courses in science subjects to encourage schools to start on AS-level science subjects.'' The new curriculum, introduced to all secondary schools last year, is designed to give Form 6 students a broader choice of subjects. It has attracted 254 schools, or about 70 per cent of the 360 secondary schools offering matriculation classes.

A funding package worth over $1 million was presented last year to encourage schools to adopt the new curriculum. But the funds, ranging from $500 per class per annum to $2,000 per school per subject, have not proved as attractive as expected.

''AS-level science subjects are less popular than arts because many schools are worried the former will be more difficult for students who have no science background,'' Mr Yung said.

''People believe arts subjects like History are easy for self-study, even if they weren't offered in junior forms.'' Last year, Chinese Culture and Language and Use of English were the two most popular AS-level subjects. They are considered ''compulsory'' as all tertiary institutes demand passes in these subjects in their minimum entry requirements (see box).

Tertiary level minimum requirements THE minimum entry requirements for tertiary institutes: Passes in AS-level Use of English and Chinese Language and Culture are compulsory. The HKU and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) even require a grade D (or grade E in the Chinese-version exam) in Use of English.

A pass in Liberal Studies is considered as an advantage in HKUST and Baptist College.

Other passes required are: Two A-levels or one A-level plus two AS-levels at HKU; A-level or one A-level plus two AS-levels at HKUST; Three A-levels, or two A-levels plus one AS-level, or one A-level plus two AS-levels at CU; Two A-levels or one A-level plus two AS-levels at Polytechnic; Two A-levels or one A-level plus two AS-levels at City Polytechnic; One A-level and one AS-level at Baptist College; and Two A-levels or one A-level plus one AS-level at Lingnan College.

''The slow response to the AS-level is understandable. Most schools are shy of the new subjects, and are adopting a wait-and-see attitude. It will take time for schools to understand the details of the programme,'' Mr Yeung added.