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Applied Learning: Realising Potential, Embracing the Future

Ms Joanne Wong
Chief Curriculum Development Officer (Applied Learning)

     While the COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping the world, healthcare professionals are steadfast in fighting the pandemic and trying their best to save lives. Their professionalism, expertise as well as selfless dedication in serving the public are admirable. I am sure such altruistic acts have inspired our students and many of them may want to contribute to society by joining the medical professions in future.

     In fact, under our local senior secondary curriculum, Applied Learning (ApL) courses are offered as elective subjects and senior secondary students who are interested in the medical professions can take ApL courses from the course cluster "Medical Science and Health Care" under the area of studies Applied Science. Through simulated or authentic contexts as well as a diversified curriculum, students can equip themselves early to realise their aspirations and explore pathways for further studies or career. With these features, ApL courses have all along been well received by students.

     Since the launch of ApL in 2010, new courses have been developed from time to time in response to the needs of students and society. Currently, there are more than 40 ApL courses (see attachment) under six areas of studies, namely, Creative Studies; Media and Communication; Business, Management and Law; Services; Applied Science; and Engineering and Production. In addition, there are also ApL (Vocational English) and ApL Chinese (for non-Chinese speaking students) courses.

     ApL put emphasis on diversified and practical learning elements. Taking Applied Science as an example, the course cluster "Medical Science and Health Care" provides students with the opportunities to gain an understanding of the healthcare professions and to explore their aspirations in the field. Through the course "Medical Laboratory Science", students can acquire a basic understanding of the application of sophisticated instruments and the techniques of conducting tests, and learn to use scientific principles to diagnose diseases and conduct health surveillance. Meanwhile, the course "Foundation in Chinese Medicine" covers the basic concepts of Chinese medicine. Students can learn to apply and practise the basic knowledge of Chinese medicine, as well as understand the development of the field.

     In recent years, many new industries with great potential have emerged. Keeping abreast of these developments, new ApL courses have been developed to provide opportunities for students to enhance their understanding of these industries, to cater for their diverse learning needs, interests and career aspirations. For the 2021-23 cohort, new ApL courses including "Popular Music Production", "Digital Media and Radio Production", "Food Innovation and Science", and two vocational English courses are offered. In the course of growing up, students embark on the journey of self-exploration. ApL provides them with opportunities to understand their own interests and abilities, and explore their future study and career pathways to help them unleash their potential and embrace the future.

     When students choose their elective subjects, guidance and support from parents and schools are very important. Let me take this opportunity to explain the special features of ApL. ApL offers studies with stronger elements of practical learning linked to broad professional and vocational fields, and put emphasis on both practice and theory. It fosters students' development of knowledge and generic skills through simulated or authentic contexts, and at the same time cultivates students' positive values and attitudes to prepare them well for further studies and career. The Task Force on Review of School Curriculum and the Task Force on Promotion of Vocational and Professional Education and Training submitted their respective reports to the Education Bureau in 2020. Both reports recognised that ApL is a valued senior secondary elective subject, and recommended its further promotion to enhance the public's understanding of its value. Since the introduction of ApL, schools in general consider that ApL could provide senior secondary students with diverse learning opportunities to cater for their learning needs and interests and enrich their learning experiences.

     We are currently launching a series of publicity activities, including TV and radio promotional clips as well as videos of success stories of students who have studied ApL, to help the public understand the value of ApL and to dispel the misconception that ApL is only for underachievers.

     The Education Bureau encourages schools to make arrangements with ApL course providers to conduct ApL courses on the school campus, either in their own school or in collaboration with other schools, depending on the number of students interested in those specific ApL courses. At the same time, we encourage schools to start offering ApL to students as early as at Secondary 4, and we have relaxed the funding eligibility for students taking ApL as the 4th elective subject.

     Current Secondary 4 students who are interested in taking ApL courses next year (ApL courses for the 2021-23 cohort) at Secondary 5 could submit their applications through their schools from 23 February to 13 April 2021. For details, please visit: www.edb.gov.hk/apl.

List of Applied Learning Courses (for 2021-23 Cohort; 2023 HKDSE)





21 February 2021