Following is the speech by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Professor Arthur K C Li, in moving the Second Reading of the Education (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2003 at the Legislative Council meeting today (April 9) (English only):
I move that the Education (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2003 be read the second time.
The Bill aims to streamline the registration procedure for day and evening schools, enhance the mode of operation of the Appeals Board, raise the professional standards of teachers and allow schools and post secondary colleges to conduct courses on general holidays.
Under section 10 subsection (2) of the Education Ordinance, a school which provides evening in addition to its daytime instruction, is required to register the evening instruction as a separate school. The separate registration procedure for day and evening schools in such cases is neither efficient nor cost-effective. Repealing this section will remove duplication of work, speed up the processing of applications and create a more business friendly environment.
Section 59 of the Education Ordinance provides for an Appeals Board to hear and determine appeals arising from a decision of the Permanent Secretary for Education and Manpower on registration of schools, managers, supervisors, principals and teachers, and applications for extension of service of teachers and principals in aided schools. At present, the Appeals Board involves a large number of members in hearing every appeal. We propose a more flexible system of appointing an Appeal Boards Panel from which members would be drawn to form Appeal Boards to hear or determine appeal cases. Under this new arrangement, more than one hearing session can operate concurrently to handle different appeal cases.
Quality of teaching is essential to the provision of quality education. One of the key elements to assure the quality of teaching is teachers' qualifications and professional competency. To upgrade the quality of teachers and to develop a professional teaching force, it is necessary to raise the minimum qualifications for teacher registration. To qualify for a registered teacher status, a person will have to possess an approved teacher education qualification. The existing paragraphs (3) and (9) in Part I of the Second Schedule of the Education Regulations whereby serving teachers may become registered teachers by accumulating years of services without going through proper teacher training, will be repealed.
We also propose to raise the minimum qualifications of permitted teachers in schools offering primary, secondary and post secondary education from the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) to post-secondary level. The new requirement will apply to new permitted teachers joining the teaching profession on or after 1 September 2003, and serving permitted teachers who seek to have a new permit to teach upon change of school, subjects or levels of subjects taught. The Permanent Secretary for Education and Manpower may exercise discretion to exempt those affected permitted teachers from the new requirements in exceptional cases.
The minimum qualifications for permitted teachers serving in kindergartens are also recommended to be raised to five passes in the HKCEE, including both English and Chinese Language.
To enhance the professionalism of the teaching force, we propose to include an enabling provision in section 84(1)(w) of the Education Ordinance to empower the Chief Executive in Council to make regulations to stipulate the qualifications, continuing education and training of principals and teachers as and when necessary.
Our proposal to permit schools and post secondary colleges to conduct courses on general holidays will provide more flexibility to schools to accommodate the different needs of working adults and to suit individual modus operandi and interests. This is in line with the Government's policy to encourage life-long learning and addresses the concerns of private school operators.
We believe that raising the qualifications for teacher registration and reinforcing the professional competency requirements of teachers will enhance the quality of teachers in Hong Kong for better education of our next generation. The other proposals would either streamline the existing procedures or provide more flexibility to school operators and are generally welcome by the education sector.
Madam President, I hope that Members will support the Education (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2003.
End/Wednesday, April 9, 2003