Following is a question by Ir Dr the Hon Ho Chung-tai and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Professor Arthur K C Li, in the Legislative Council today (July 2):
It has been reported that in order to move with the times, the Government has implemented the strategy on information technology in education for five years, but so far the effectiveness of the strategy has not been obvious. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the total allocation of resources for implementing the strategy and the main areas in which resources have been committed over the past five years;
(b) of the reasons for the effectiveness of the strategy's not being obvious, and how the authorities deal with such a situation; and
(c) whether guidelines and support have been provided for primary and secondary schools in the course of implementing the strategy; if so, of the details?
(a) The Government announced a series of new initiatives to promote the use of information technology (IT) in school teaching in 1997, and resources have been allocated for the implementation of such initiatives. From 1998 to June 2003, a total of HK$2.08 billion was provided, mainly for procurement of computing facilities (HK$1.205 billion), installation and related works services (HK$438 million), teacher training (HK$372 million) and development of educational software (HK$30 million). In addition, since 1998, over HK$1.5 billion have been allocated from the Quality Education Fund to support various IT projects in schools, including the "Digital Bridge" scheme which aimed to provide poorer students with computers and the establishment of the "HKEdCity" website.
(b) The Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB) introduced the "Five-Year Strategy on Information Technology for Learning in a New Era" in 1998. Under the Strategy, specific measures have been drawn up to promote IT in education and assist teachers and schools in improving the quality of teaching through IT application. Over the last five years, a number of related projects have been successfully completed with substantial results. In a study conducted by the University of Hong Kong commissioned by the Government in 2001, i.e., the "Preliminary Study on Reviewing the Progress and Evaluating the Information Technology in Education Projects", the Strategy has been considered apt in upgrading students' competence in basic computer operations and Internet usage, as well as significantly improving the IT competency of teachers. Some schools have successfully adopted innovative pedagogical practices where IT is employed to support curriculum and teaching reforms. There is a wealth of cases relating to IT in education pooled by EMB and the schools over the past five years, from which teachers may draw for experience sharing or reference. Besides, the "HKEdCity" is becoming a full-fledged website. It has repeatedly been elected one of the most popular and healthy web sites in Hong Kong with the average hit rate reaching as high as two million pages per day. During the period of class suspension with the outbreak of atypical pneumonia, many schools capitalized on the use of Internet e-Learning platforms to continue teaching and learning. All these show that IT is becoming increasingly popular in facilitating teaching and learning. The Government will continue to strengthen teacher training as well as cooperation with schools and the industry with a view to further promoting IT in education.
(c) In the course of implementing the Strategy, the Government has supported schools in many ways. These include providing guidelines and regular information updates to schools on procurement of computing facilities, channels to obtain technical support, network security, etc. In addition, there are seminars, experience sharing sessions and school visits, through which seconded teachers from the Regional Support Section of EMB will provide professional support to other teachers in promoting wider use of IT to enhance teaching and learning. In the school year 2002-03, EMB has called on 18 schools to form a network of "Centers of Excellence on IT in Education" to provide support for schools in various districts and to promote IT in education. Public sector schools have also been granted resources for hiring IT Coordinators for two years to enable the effective use of IT across the curriculum. Starting from September 2003, schools will be granted cash allowance to arrange for their own computer technical support services which have been provided by EMB contract service providers since January 1999.
End/Wednesday, July 2, 2003