Education in Hong Kong

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Education in Hong Kong

Education in Hong Kong

    Education Bureau
    HK Exam Assessment Authority

    Pre-school Education
    Primary Education
    Secondary Education
        HKALE (A-Level)
        334 Scheme
        JUPAS(EAS Subsystem)
    Higher Education

    English Schools Foundation
    University Grants Committee
    Grant Schools Council
    Direct Subsidy Scheme

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Education in Hong Kong has a similar system to that of the United Kingdom, in particular the English education system of Hong Kong was modernised by the British in 1861. The system is often described as extremely competitive by global standards.

Small village Chinese schools were observed by the British missionaries when they arrived circa 1843.[1] Anthony Sweeting believes those small village schools existed in Chek Chu, Shek Pai Wan, Heung Kong Tsai and Wong Nai Chong on Hong Kong Island, although proof is no longer available.[2]

One of the earliest schools with reliable records was Li Ying College established in 1075 in present day New Territories.[3] By 1860 Hong Kong had 20 village schools. Chinese who were wealthy did not educate their children in Hong Kong, instead they sent them back to the mainland for traditional Chinese education.[3] The changes came with the arrival of the British in 1841.

At first Hong Kong's education came from Protestant and Catholic missionaries who provided social services. Italian missionaries began to provide boy-only education to British and Chinese youth in 1843.[4] By 1861 Frederick Stewart would become "The Founder of Hong Kong Education" for integrating a modern western-style education model into the Colonial Hong Kong school system.[5] One of the much contested debate was whether schools should offer Vernacular education, teaching in Chinese at all.[2] Education was considered a luxury for the elite and the rich. The first school to open the floodgate of western medical practice to the Far East was the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese in 1887.[6] The push for Chinese education in a British system did not begin until the rise of social awareness of the May Fourth Movement in 1919 and New Life Movement in 1934.[2][3] Educating the poor did not become a priority until they accounted for the majority of the population.

Finance issues were addressed in the 1970s.[7] A small group of protesters of South Asian origin marched through central Hong Kong demanding more schooling in the English language on 3 June 2007.[8]


[edit] Format

Following the introduction of the comprehensive school system in the 1960s in the UK, children in Hong Kong transformed from the old education system to the new.[7][9] Education listed as compulsory below are generally required by law.

[edit] British system before 1960

Length Education type Type
4 years First school
4 years Secondary-middle school
3 + 2 years Secondary-high school

[edit] British system after 1960

Length Education type Type
6 years Primary school
5 + 2 years Secondary school

[edit] British system after 1971

Length Education type Type
6 years Primary education compulsory government funded as of 1971
3 years Secondary education compulsory government funded as of 1978
2 + 2 years Secondary school selective

[edit] Current 2007 format

Length Education type Additional names Type Focus School year
3 years Kindergarten voluntary General Sept - June
6 years Primary education Primary 1, Primary 2, Primary 3, Primary 4, Primary 5, Primary 6 compulsory General Sept - July
3 years Secondary education Form 1, Form 2, Form 3 compulsory General Sept - July
2 years Senior Secondary
(leads to HKCEE)
Form 4, Form 5 selective Specialised Sept - July (Form 4),Sept - April (Form 5)
2 years Matriculation Course
(leads to HKALE)
Form 6 (Lower Six)
Form 7 (Upper Six)
selective, performance based Specialised Sept - July (Form 6), Sept - February/March (Form 7)
Depends on subject Tertiary education
(leads to bachelors, masters and other academic degrees)
selective Specialised Varies

[edit] School systems

Queen Elizabeth School, a co-ed secondary school.

[edit] Culture

The mainstream education system in Hong Kong has often been described as "spoon-fed" (Chinese: 填鴨式教育). Cram schools in Hong Kong have also become a popular standard in parallel to regular education. A heavy emphasis is placed on the Ranking systems at an early age. Competition among students is fierce, since job and advanced-school placements are rigorously filtered by rank results.

Practically all school students in Hong Kong wear uniforms. Common restrictions include strict dress codes, behaviours, and what items one can carry to school.

[edit] Point system

Schools in Hong Kong typically have strict codes of discipline. An overwhelming majority of schools employ "Demerit Points System" (Chinese: 記缺點制度) as a formal record of student offences in disciplinary areas. These statistics will appear on a student's report card, and sometimes testimonials on whether he or she can graduate. A typical example of a current institution using a demerit point system is at Shatin Tsung Tsin Secondary School [2]. Most schools will record demerit points (Chinese: 記缺點) at the most basic violation. Three typical point deduction accrue from a minor offence (Chinese: 記小過), while three minor offences mount up to one major offence (Chinese: 記大過). Once a student has accrued three or more major offences, he or she is automatically suspended (or expelled if over compulsory education age) from school. The point system has been known to carry substantial weight, which ultimately affects one's report card performance, and controversially jeopardising future career prospects.[citation needed]

[edit] Capacity

Many primary schools in Hong Kong offer half-day schooling, splitting by AM and PM to handle the demand. The two sessions are usually treated as separate school entities with two different headmasters and different sets of staff. To make up for the time of shortened half days, students are sometimes required to attend alternate Saturdays. Most primary schools are gradually moving to full school day systems as government policy aims to phase out half-day schooling over time as resource permits.

Due to the drop in birth rate in recent years, many primary schools were forced to cut classes, cut teachers and even close down. There have been debates that one should seize the opportunity to promote small class teaching. Doing so could mitigate the pressure of teachers, class and school reductions, on top of improving ratio of students to teachers.

[edit] Qualifications: professional development for teachers

The Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd), under the aegis of the University Grants Committee (UGC), aims to upgrade the quality of teaching professionals. It offers a range of degree and postgraduate programmes as well as some sub-degree teacher education programmes targeted at pre-primary, primary and secondary levels. The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and The University of Hong Kong (HKU) offer full-time and part-time degree and postgraduate programmes for in-service and pre-service teachers. The Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) also offers both undergraduate and postgraduate teacher education programmes on a full-time or part-time basis. The Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK) offers two in-service Bachelor of Education (Honours) degree programmes and two in-service Postgraduate Diploma in Education programmes for primary and secondary school teachers.

[edit] Qualifications: professional development for principals

Starting in 2002/03, all serving principals have to undertake continuing professional development activities for about 50 hours per year, adding up to a minimum of 150 hours in a 3-year cycle. Newly appointed principals in their first two years are required to undertake specific continuing professional development activities. Starting from the 2004/05 school year, aspiring principals will have to attain the "Certification for Principalship".

[edit] School types

Type Category Description
Government schools Comprehensive Run by the government.
Subsidised schools Comprehensive Most common, run by charitable and religious (Christian, Buddhist, Taoist, TWGHs and others) organisations with government funding.
Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) schools Private Run by various non-government organisations. HKSAR Government has encouraged non-government primary and secondary schools which have attained a sufficiently high educational standard to join the DSS by providing subsidies in order to enhance the quality of private school education since 1991/92 school year. Under the scheme, schools are free to decide on their curriculum, fees and entrance requirements.
Private schools Private Run by various private organisations, and mainly accept local Chinese children. Admissions are based more on academic merit than on financial ability, they teach in both English and in Cantonese.
Private international schools Private Provide an alternative to the mainstream education, in exchange for much higher tuition fees although it is recently deemed as high-pressure as local mainstream education. The schools teach streams in both English, and in the language of its sponsoring nation e.g. French, German, Japanese etc.
English Schools Foundation Subsidised Provide an alternative to the high-pressured mainstream education. However the tuition fees are lower than many other international schools as many ESF schools enjoy subvention by the Hong Kong Government in order to educate English-speaking children who cannot access the local system.

[edit] Early education

King's College, one of the oldest secondary school in Hong Kong.

[edit] Pre-school / nursery / kindergarten education

Before Christmas season in 2006, the finance committee of the Legislative Council approved the controversial HK$2 billion pre-school scheme to subsidise early childhood education. Under the subsidy plan, parents whose children study in non-profit-making kindergarten get an education voucher of HK$13,000 per student per year from the 2007-2008 school year, provided the annual school fees do not exceed HK$24,000 for half-day kindergartens or HK$48,000 for whole-day kindergartens. A schedule of voucher value is set out as below: 2007/08 $13,000 ; 2008/09 $14,000 ; 2009/10 $14,000 ; 2010/11 $16,000 ; 2011/12 $16,000 .

[edit] Primary education

Primary education in Hong Kong covers a wide curriculum. Core subjects include Chinese, English, Mathematics, and General Studies[disambiguation needed] with broad emphasis on Music, Physical Education and Arts. In some schools Science is taught as well. Formerly there were 3 knowledge-oriented subjects: Social Studies, Health Education, and Science. In the 1996–1997 academic year the Education Department amalgamated these subjects into the new subject of General Studies [3]. Depending on the religious background of the school, Religious Education or Bible Studies could be incorporated. The teaching medium in most of the local primary schools is Chinese with English as a second language. After the transfer of the sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997, only a handful of primary schools and secondary schools are able to keep English as the medium of instruction under new government policies. Those schools are generally referred to as English as Medium of Instruction schools (EMI).

[edit] Secondary education

Secondary education in Hong Kong is largely based on the English schooling system, with 10% being single-sex education institutions. In Form 4, most students of grammar schools are required to choose between streams, namely "Science", "Arts" and "Commerce", depending on the school policy. The end of Form 5 leads to the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE). The exam is equivalent to the UK's GCSEs or O-levels exams.

Students obtaining a satisfactory grade in the HKCEE will be promoted to Form 6. The Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE) then acts as the de facto university entrance examination akin to the UK's GCE A-levels. At this level streaming is even more rigidly specialized dividing into Mathematics/Engineering stream, Biology/Medical stream or Arts stream for example.

Prerequisites for university admissions include Grade "E" or better in the HKALE Chinese Language and Culture and Use of English subjects and 2 other A-level equivalent subjects. The Joint University Programmes Admissions System (JUPAS) determines admission to tertiary institutions largely based on HKALE and HKCEE results. However, students achieving more than 6 'A's in their HKCEEs are eligible to apply for early admissions through the Early Admissions Scheme (EAS) including The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), The University of Hong Kong (HKU) and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST).

[edit] International education

International institutions provide both primary and secondary education in Hong Kong. International institutions like school's within the English Schools Foundation, Li Po Chun United World College, Hong Kong International School, Chinese International School, German Swiss International School, Canadian International School, French International School and Yew Chung International School teach with English as the primary language, with some sections bilingual in German, French and Chinese. International school students rarely take Hong Kong public exams. British students take GCSE, IGCSE and A-levels. US students take APs. Increasingly, international schools follow the International Baccalaureate (IBDP) program, and enter universities through non-JUPAS direct entry. International students apply on a per school basis, whereas Hong Kong local students submit 1 application for multiple local universities as a JUPAS applicant.

[edit] Higher education

[edit] Tertiary education

With 8 universities and several other tertiary institutions in just one city, tertiary education plays a key role in the education system. Of the 36,660 students who attended the HKALE in 2003, 18,049 (49.2%) of them fulfilled their general entry requirement to their respective university, usually a pass in Chinese Language and Culture and Use of English, plus another two A-level subjects (or one A-level subject and two AS-level subjects). Students who sit for the HKALE first time have a success rate of 75.8%. There are 19 different Advanced Level and 20 different AS-level subjects available.[10] The cost of undergraduate, full-degree, full-time programmes tend to be around HK$40,000 - 50,000 a year, with the cost being higher for engineering and medical students. The reason for this relatively low cost is due to heavy government subsidisation. Being an international city, Hong Kong's tertiary institutions attract many foreign exchange students from the US,the UK, Switzerland, Canada, Italy, Singapore to name a few.

The following is a table comparing HK tertiary students enrollment in various countries. It also provides a ratio comparison to the number that enrolled in local Hong Kong universities.[4]

Country 1975 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1998 2000
Australia 572 1,658 1,687 1,889 3,864 6,707 11,932 17,135 20,739
Canada 6,644 7,723 6,730 5,840 6,372 6,600 6,589 5,000 5,000
Taiwan 2,626 3,816 3,854 3,850 3,633 3,450 2,663 1,487 1,171
UK 4,434 6,500 6,935 7,300 7,700 7,600 7,400 5,450 5,200
USA 11,930 9,000 9,720 9,160 12,630 14,018 12,940 8,730 7,545
Local 11,575 21,538 25,995 29,591 34,556 42,721 52,494 59,528 59,408

[edit] Vocational and post-secondary education

Commerce stream in secondary schools are considered vocational in nature. Students in the Commerce stream would usually enter the workplace to gain practical work experience by this point. Further education pursuit in Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education or universities abroad are common. The Manpower Development Committee (MDC) advices the government on coordination, regulation and promotion of the sector. In addition, the Vocational Training Council (VTC) ensures the level of standard is met through the "Apprentice Ordinance". The VTC also operate three skills-centres for people with disabilities. secondary schools in Hong Kong are going to be cut down to only two years due to the switch in the government.

[edit] Non-mainstream education

[edit] Adult education

Adult education is popular, since it gives middle-aged adults a chance to obtain a tertiary degree. The concept was not common several decades ago. The EMB has commissioned two non-profit school operators to provide evening courses. Both operators have set up fee remission schemes to help the adult learners in need of financial assistance. Adult education courses also provide Vocational Training Council through various universities and private institutions. The Open University of Hong Kong is one establishment for mature students.

[edit] Education for newly-arrived-children (NAC)

The EMB provides education services for newly arrived children, which includes children from the Mainland, non-Chinese speaking children and returnees. Free "Induction Programmes" of up to 60 hours have been offered to NAC by non-government organisations. The EMB also provides a 6 month full-time "Initiation Programme" incorporating both academic and non-academic support services, for NAC before they are formally placed into mainstream schools. Hei-Hang Hayes Tang (2002) provided a good sociology of education thesis on the NACs' adaptation and school performance

[edit] Standings

In the OECD's international assessment of student performance, Hong Kong has been ranked one of the highest scorers in 2003 and 2006. In 2003, 15-year-olds from Hong Kong came first in mathematics, and third in science, worldwide.

[edit] Criticism

With the advent of education reform there is a greater emphasis on group projects, open-ended assignments on top of traditional homework. The current workload of a primary student in Hong Kong includes approximately two hours of schoolwork nightly. Along with extra-curricular activities, Hong Kong's education has become synonymous for leaning towards quantity. As early as March 1987, education advisory inspectors became concerned with the excessive amounts of "mechanical work and meaningless homework".[11] In particular, history education has been recognised as ineffective, with critics claiming that the curriculum is not capable of delivering a sense of identity. Not only that, students have to memorise the whole history texts, thereby indicating that rote-learning has greater priority than absorbing and understanding material.[11]

Some have criticised the system for having too narrow of a stream focus, too early on. Alan Leong of the Hong Kong Legislative Council pointed out in a guest lecture to CUHK that secondary level science students are incapable of participating in meaningful discussions on history, arts, or literature. Vice versa journalists of arts stream background are incapable of accurately discussing technological issues. The narrow focus of education in Hong Kong has been a concern.

The pervasive perception from observers in overseas education institutions generally is that a typical Hong Kong student compared with other students, even against other students in the Asia region, lacks systematic decision-making confidence and relies on repetition and undeveloped answers. This deviates from the common benchmark of intellect where value propositions are generated from innovation and distinctive solutions, and this has led to much schism in the debate of educational direction of Hong Kong, where the populace makes no such aspiration for intellect but seek constant reaffirmation of the value of myriad certificates obtained through pedagogy throughout their working lives. The desperation to seek standing in life through education is further highlighted by severe ironies such as:

1) Senior education officials often acclaim the excellence of Hong Kong education, yet few if any will let their children matriculate locally, preferring overseas universities instead.

2) A certificate driven society that takes pride in its academic excellence is unable to devise a suitable benchmark of excellence itself, with a low public approval of the local educational system, relies on certification from outside Hong Kong.

[edit] Future

As of March 2007, a new Senior Secondary School curriculum was promulgated. Secondary education will move away from the English model of five years secondary schooling plus two years of university matriculation to the Chinese model of three years of junior secondary plus another three years of senior secondary according to the 334 Scheme (three years for junior secondary, three years for senior secondary and four years for university) with the Form 1 intake in the 2006-07 academic year the first crop to graduate under the new system. Streaming of classes according to subjects offered will be abolished, and the two public exams HKCEE and HKALE will be merged into one public exam, called the Hong Kong Diploma in Secondary Education, sat at the end of the Senior Secondary 3 (Form 6 under the existing system), and expanding school based assessment. University education will extend from three years to four.[12]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ The Chinese Repository, Article III 'Religious and Charitable Institutions in Hongkong:Churches, Chapels, Schools, Colleges, Hospital, etc' August, 1843 issue, p.440
  2. ^ a b c Sweeting, Anthony. [1990] (1990). Education in Hong Kong, pre-1841 to 1941. p.87, Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 962-209-258-6
  3. ^ a b c Bryn Mawr College. "Brynmawr Eastasian pdf." "" Retrieved on 2007-03-15.
  4. ^ a b Bray, Mark. Koo, Ramsey. [2005] (2005) Education and Society in Hong Kong and Macao: Comparative Perspectives on Continuity and Change. Hong Kong: Springer Press. ISBN 1-4020-3405-9
  5. ^ Wiltshire, Trea. [First published 1987] (republished & reduced 2003). Old Hong Kong - Volume One. Central, Hong Kong: Text Form Asia books Ltd. Page 8. ISBN Volume One 962-7283-59-2
  6. ^ Sir James Cantlie started the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese in 1887 (although, the ‘for Chinese’ was later dropped from the name). Ingrams, Harold, Hong Kong (Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London: 1952), p.213.
  7. ^ a b Eh Net. "Eh Net." Hong Kong History. Retrieved on 2007-02-21.
  8. ^ Hk Marchers. "[1]." HK marchers demand more English Retrieved on 2007-06-03.
  9. ^ Chan, Shun-hing. Leung, Beatrice. [2003] (2003). Changing Church and State Relations in Hong Kong, 1950-2000. Hong Kong: HK university press. Page 24. ISBN 962-209-612-3
  10. ^ Statistics sourced from the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority
  11. ^ a b Vickers, Edward. [2003] (2003). In Search of an Identity: The Politics of History Teaching in Hong Kong, 1960s-2000. United Kingdom: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-94502-X
  12. ^ Siu, Beatrice (21 January 2010). "Diploma likely to pass British university test". The Standard. Retrieved 17 August 2010. 
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