Both the early learning and sports education industries equire that educators be sufficiently qualified, and two of the degrees offered by the Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK) have been designed to meet this growing need. EdUHK’s five-year full-time Bachelor of Education (Honours), Early Childhood Education (ECE) has been structured to develop outstanding early childhood educators, while the five-year, fulltime Bachelor of Education (Honours), Physical Education (HPE) aims to produce qualified physical education teachers for both primary and secondary schools. ECE programme coordinator Dr Betty Wong Kit-mei says succesful graduates meet the requirements to register as qualified kindergarten teachers and child care workers under the Education Bureau and Social Welfare Department. “Most of our graduates start their careers as frontline practitioners, teaching in various early childhood settings, including special child care centers,” Wong says. In addition, graduates who have successfully completed the specified elective courses qualify as registered special child care workers. EdUHK, formally known as the Hong Kong Institute of Education or HKIED before getting promoted to Hong Kong’s eighth publicly-funded university, has been offering early childhood teacher education since 2005. Currently, 84 per cent of Hong Kong’s primary school teachers and about 30 per cent of the city’s secondary school teachers are graduates of EdUHK. Besides theories on child development and pedagogies in various learning domains, there are courses on working with parents and designing curricula for infants and toddlers. “Our students also experience unique, practical opportunities at the early childhood learning centre on our campus, and at other early childhood institutions in Hong Kong,” Wong adds. Wong stresses the many lucrative career opportunities available to graduates. Many become principals and head teachers in kindergartens, or go on to complete their masters. “Some graduates work in other tertiary institutions as research assistants, project officers, and teacher educators,” explains Wong. “We also have graduates working at the Education Bureau as inspectors, and publishers of ECE related books,” she adds. Applicants applying through the JUPAS system should have obtained minimum scores of Chinese language 3, English language 3, liberal studies 2, mathematics 2, and elective 2 in the HKDSE programme. Fifth year ECE student Clara Ho Man-sze says her interest in early childhood education was shaped by her personality and beliefs. “I have always been interested in working with young children, and agree with [French priest and lecturer] Ernest Dimnet that ‘children have to be educated, but they have also to be left to educate themselves’,” says Ho, who adds that she chose the programme so she could make a difference in children’s lives. Ho says that another strength of the programme was the seamless integration of subject knowledge, professional expertise, and practical abilities. “Real-life teaching experience helped me appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of different theories and to understand different students’ learning abilities. This helped me with designing appropriate learning activities,” says Ho. The five-year, full-time HPE degree aims to produce qualified physical education teachers and prepare them for both primary and secondary schools. Dr. Alberto Cruz, assistant professor at the EdUHK department of health and physical education, says the degree reflects the recent changes in physical education (PE) curricula, which now focus more on promoting all-round development, lifelong learning, and healthy and active lifestyles than in the past. “The programme includes a wide range of theory and professional activity courses, which enhance students’ knowledge in theory and academia, while increasing their teaching skills and proficiency in physical education,” Cruz says. Various teaching and learning strategies are employed to provide student teachers with opportunities to practice and develop innovative pedagogy and curricula for further studies. “Theory and practice integration is a key aim of the curriculum,” says Cruz. The course also aims to provide students with rich personal, academic, and professional opportunities. Cruz says a recent government stipulation has made it so physical education can only be taught by fully-qualified professionals, which has increased the demand for teachers with qualifications like the HPE degree significantly. Graduates can also go on to pursue careers in coaching, sports management, and local disciplinary forces. Applicants should have HKDSE minimum scores of Chinese language level 3, English language level 3, liberal studies level 2, mathematics level 2, and an elective 2. They will also be required to complete a physical fitness test and interview. Year Five HPE student Gwen Leung Nga says her passion for sport was influenced by her secondary school PE teacher, who taught her the importance of sharing the joy of sports with others. Leung says the HPE prepares students for PE careers by focusing on two critical areas; skill development over a broad spectrum of sports, and integrating theory with practice. “I have gained a sense of how effective my teaching methods are, and that has helped me to refine my teaching strategies,” says Leung, who is a member of the Hong Kong water polo team. Leung also enjoys putting knowledge into practice through placements in schools. “I want to empower my students, and help them realise their potential once I become a fully qualified PE teacher,” he explains. Fellow Year Five HPE student Li Lutyin says he has become proficient in a variety of sports by integrating he theory and practice taught in the course. As Hong Kong’s 100 metre sprinting champion, Li says the programme made him step outside of his comfort zone of track and field. Most notably, he was able to overcome his childhood fear of swimming with the support of faculty and classmates. Li’s parents also work in education, which inspired him to pursue a career in teaching. “I want to follow their footsteps and contribute to the physical well-being of Hong Kong students,” concludes Li.