Following is the speech by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Prof Arthur K C Li, in resuming the second reading debate of the Education Reorganisation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2002 at Legislative Council meeting today (February 19) (English only):
The Education Reorganisation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2002 aims to amends the Education Ordinance (Cap. 279) and other related Ordinances in order to transfer the functions of the Director of Education (D of E) and the Education Department (ED) to the Permanent Secretary for Education and Manpower (PSEM) and the Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB) respectively, as a result of the merger . The reorganization of the ED and the EMB and the former ED. The reorganisation aims to integrate into one entity represents an attempt to enhance efficiency in integrating ppolicy-making and implementation and to flatten the hierarchy so as to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. In line with this objective, and fFollowing the abolition of the post of the D of E, the Board of Education (BoE) which was established to advise the D of E, will also be abolished and merged with the Education Commission (EC) so as to streamline the advisory and consultation process. obviate the overlapping functions of these two bodies in the consultation process.
I would like to thank the Hon Cyd Ho Sau-lan and members of the Bills Committee for their efficiency in scrutinising the Bill and for the constructive advice they have tendered, in particular, on the non-statutory status and terms of reference of the EC.
On the basis of the discussion in the Bills Committee, I shall be moving two Committee Stage amendments later on. One redefines the commencement date of the Ordinance and the other withdraws the saving and transitional provisions concerning the transfer of property, rights and liabilities.
I note the concerns of the mMembers of the Bills Committee considered that, being the body to advise the Government on overall educational objectives and policies, EC's revised terms of reference (ToR) should be as broad as possible. In this connection, Members were of the view that the explicit reference to “the planning and development of early childhood and school education” in paragraph 1(a) of the revised ToR of the EC was may be unnecessary and would lead to confusion about the future role of the EC and could be misleading. We note Members' concern and will report the Bills Committee's concern to the EC at its next meeting and seekagree to delete the reference to early childhood and school education in the the two sectors in paragraph 1(a) of the revised ToR of the EC.
I also note that members also expressed were most concern about ed with the transparency and representation of the EC after the merger with the BoE. At the Bills Committee, we assured Members that To ensure a wider representation of the EC, the membership had of the EC has been broadened to include the Chairmen of the Subsidised Primary Schools Council, the Subsidised Secondary Schools Councils, the Special Schools Council and the Home-School Cooperation Committee, who were former members of the BoE. To ensure smooth transition and continuity, the BoE Chairman was has also been appointed to the EC as a lay member. The EC will continue to enhance its transparency by fostering communication with the stakeholders and the community at large. I would stress again that the role and importance of the EC would not by no means be affected by the merger of the EC and the BoE. It will continue to play a key role in advising the Government on overall education policies and the priorities of implementation. In so doing, the EC will continue to ; maintain a dialogue with the key stakeholders and publicise its work from time to time. Under improving the EC's transparency will always be high on my agenda. This is in line with the principles of transparency, consultation and consensus building under the Accountability System, it is reasonable to expect a higher degree of transparency of governance, not less.
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I shall be moving two Committee Stage amendments later on. It is necessary to change the commencement date of the Ordinance and to withdraw the provisions incidental and supplemental to the saving and transitional provisions relating to the Board of Education, the Director of Education and the Education Department.
I hope Members will support the amendments that I shall propose in the Committee Stage.
I propose that the Bill be read the second time.
End/Wednesday, February 19, 2003