The Hong Kong Institute of Education has stepped up its response to education reforms by launching five new Master of Education programmes, preparing educators for a 'paradigm shift' in teaching and curriculum. The five courses to be introduced in September include curriculum and innovative teaching, exceptional learning needs, liberal studies education, science education and creative arts (including music and visual arts). Graduate programmes director Grace Mak Chiu-ling said that new courses responded to the needs of the education community, and that less than 6 per cent of primary teachers and 23 per cent of secondary teachers held an MEd qualification or above in 2004-05. Dr Tsui Kwok-tung, in charge of the master of curriculum and innovative teaching, stressed the need to apply curriculum theories to teaching against the backdrop of the reforms. 'This is important if we want our students to be creative and capable of problem-solving,' he said. Professor Chris Forlin, one of three co-ordinators for the MEd in exceptional learning needs covering inclusive and gifted education, said teachers in Hong Kong had only recently undergone changes from the traditional style of teaching to accommodating diversity. 'The movement has been very slow,' she said. Chan Tsz-leung, principal of Nam Wah Catholic Secondary School, said courses catering for special educational needs were 'urgently needed'. He said a gifted Form Three student in his school had attended five schools in the past three years. 'He was bored in class. Professional teacher training was required in spotting his needs,' he said. The University of Hong Kong is to offer its Doctor of Education programme in collaboration with at least one mainland institution. A briefing will be held on March 11.