UGC Community Leaders’ Dinner on
“3+3+4 New Academic Structure”
3 November 2005
Speech by Professor Arthur K C Li
Secretary for Education and Manpower
Dr. Lam, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my honour and pleasure to join you tonight at the UGC Community Leaders’ Dinner. I would like to thank Dr Alice Lam in particular for organising such a meaningful event, and I admire her for having drawn together so many distinguished guests who have made invaluable contribution to our education sector and to our community as a whole.
The theme this year is the “3+3+4” New Academic Structure. The subject is well chosen and mostly timely, because the Government and the education sector are working at full steam to prepare for its implementation. So I would like to take this opportunity to share with you our vision and progress in this regard.
The “3+3+4” Academic Structure
In less than four years’ time, the first cohort of students to benefit from the new “3+3+4” academic structure will start their senior secondary school. We eagerly look forward to that day, when the new academic structure will allow all students to receive a six-year secondary education. The new curriculum seeks to infuse students with a broadened knowledge base, sound language and generic skills, and a propensity for life-long learning. We will be better placed to nurture students’ whole person development, and effectively prepare them for the manpower needs of the 21st Century. The new academic structure will also align the Hong Kong education system with other major education systems in the world, thus facilitating our secondary school leavers in their pursuit of further studies.
I am pleased that after years of preparation and discussion, Hong Kong has at last reached a consensus on the roadmap of the reform. Introducing the new academic structure is a mammoth task. It requires substantial manpower, land and financial resources, but we believe this is an essential investment for our future. The Government is therefore prepared to provide $7.9 billion to meet the costs of related capital works and other one-off expenses. Of this, $3.4 billion will be for the UGC-funded institutions to construct new teaching complexes and other facilities for accommodating the additional undergraduate students, and another $550 million for them to engage staff and do the preparatory work. Upon implementation of “3+3+4”, overall education spending will have to increase by $2 billion each year.
The UGC and the eight institutions it funds are also putting in their best efforts to make the reform a success. I am particularly impressed that the institutions, in drawing up their campus development proposals, have strived to confine the total funding requirements within Government’s financial commitment.
We appreciate that the resources available may not be sufficient to meet in full the aspirations of the institutions. For instance, the institutions may wish to have additional hostel places; they may require more student amenities or other facilities. To help institutions raise private funds for these projects, we have introduced in August this year a second $1 billion Matching Grant Scheme, and expanded its scope so that private donations for capital works projects can also be matched.
I am most pleased to know that the Scheme has met with great success. Thanks to the enthusiastic response of the community, including many of you here, the institutions have already secured nearly $1.5 billion of donations in just two months. I must thank all the donors for their generous contribution : your gifts to the institutions are gifts to education in Hong Kong , for which our future generations will be most grateful.
Bricks and mortars aside, we will introduce various support measures for the secondary schools, including the provision of the Teacher Professional Preparation Grant, the New Senior Secondary Curriculum Migration Grant and core training for school principals and teachers. We are doing the best we can to ensure that our teaching profession is fully equipped for the changes.
We will also implement assessment reforms to support the new curriculum. The two public examinations at the end of Secondary 5 and 7 will be replaced by a new and comprehensive assessment system leading to the award of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education at the end of Senior Secondary 3. Assessment will be less reliant on examinations, and schools can spare more time for teaching and learning. We will benchmark internationally the standards of this new qualification, to ensure that it will gain the international recognition required for our school leavers to pursue further studies outside Hong Kong .
At the university level, we should be looking for a new and coherent curriculum, not simply adding one year to the current three-year programme. The Administration therefore expects the institutions to carefully redesign their academic programmes, and I am glad that the UGC and the institutions share our view. I am also delighted to learn that the institutions have not neglected the last cohorts of students who will go to university before “3+3+4” is in place, in particular the last cohort which will be studying with the first Senior Secondary Three graduates in parallel. The institutions are prepared to beef up their three-year programme and enhance its educational value in the spirit of the 3+3+4 reform. Such goodwill on the institutions’ part will go a long way in ensuring a smooth transition to the new academic structure.
Ladies and gentlemen, the “3+3+4” reform is so fundamental that it may only happen once in a generation, but what it offers will benefit many generations to come. Its successful implementation hinges on the close cooperation of stakeholders and the full understanding and support of our community. For the betterment of Hong Kong , may I therefore appeal to you to help us make this vision come true. Thank you.