6 December 2008 (Saturday)
Heads of Universities Committee (HUCOM)
“ 334” Symposium – “Partnering for Excellence in Education”
Opening and Signing Ceremony
Speech by Mr. Michael M Y Suen, GBS, JP
Secretary for Education
Professor Cheung (Bing-leung), Laura, Professor (Lawrence) Lau, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to address such a distinguished audience this morning.
First and foremost, I would like to thank the Heads of Universities Committee, or the HUCOM for short, for organizing this series of “ 334” related symposia.
The successful implementation of the 334 reform for senior secondary and higher education requires the concerted efforts of all key stakeholders. This series of symposia will provide a useful platform for all those involved to share their experience and to discuss issues of common concern in relation to the planning and implementation of the reform.
The “ 334” is a crucial architecture in our education reform since 2000. Under the new academic structure, we will provide a broad and balanced curriculum for our students, with diversified choices to suit their individual interests and aptitudes. We will provide them with smoother multiple pathways to higher education and the workplace, so that every student has a better opportunity to succeed in life.
The new senior secondary curriculum, or the NSS for short, under “ 334” will commence operation starting from next September. Our secondary schools have been making preparations for it since 2005. This includes curriculum planning, staff development and change management. On our part, the Government has been doing conversion works in schools to provide additional physical space for more subject groupings. A number of planning workshops for school leaders and middle managers, courses and onsite support for teachers, as well as learning and teaching resources have been prepared.
My gratitude goes to HUCOM for issuing various statements in support of the NSS curriculum by announcing the minimum university entrance requirements, as well as specifying faculty requirements as early as 2006. Those announcements are especially important because they have sent a strong message to the community that breadth and depth of knowledge are more important than early specialization. With the support of our tertiary education sector, I am glad to learn that our secondary schools now have much greater confidence to implement the new curriculum.
The latest joint declaration issued by HUCOM in October 2008 further recognizes the importance of Other Learning Experiences under the NSS and reaffirm institutions’ recognition of Student Learning Profile as a document of good reference value in their admission process. I must say that this is extremely helpful in asserting the importance of whole-person development in secondary education.
By 2012, all our UGC-funded institutions will offer 4-year instead of 3-year first-degree programmes. Institutions are now actively engaged in preparing for the transition, paying particular attention to issues associated with the double cohort year, which include curriculum planning, enhancement of computer system, provision of teaching space and boarding facilities, recruitment of teaching staff and so on. To meet the demand of the 4-year programme, UGC has been closely working with various institutions on the relevant capital or non-capital projects. Extra funding is provided by UGC for institutions to set up relevant infrastructure, develop their new 4-year curriculum, as well as recruit and develop teaching staff.
Effective communication among different sectors is the key to success of the new academic structure. To ensure smooth interface between the secondary and higher education sectors, a Liaison Group on “ 334” Interface Issues has been set up since 2004 to discuss issues relating to university entrance requirements and interface between the senior secondary curriculum and 4-year undergraduate programme. This is critical in building the community’s confidence in the new structure.
In order to ensure the smooth delivery of the new structure, we have recently set up a 334 Communication Task Force to facilitate communication among all in the education sector, employers and parents. It will help to ensure that relevant messages are communicated to different stakeholders in a timely and co-ordinated manner.
We are now entering the most critical stage of the 334 reform. From now onwards to 2012, we will focus our work on various fronts. We will strive to gain international recognition for the new Diploma in Secondary Education. We will continue to work with our tertiary institutions to attain their further recognition of Applied Learning. We will continue to attach special importance to communicating with parents by holding more regional seminars, updating the 334 web bulletin weekly, issuing parents’ pamphlets on a more regular basis as well as preparing a tool-kit for schools to communicate with parents more readily and more easily.
On tertiary education, we are working closely with post-secondary and tertiary institutions in the development of their new curricula that would build on the NSS curriculum reform. We are working in full speed with UGC and its institutions to ensure the timely completion of the 334-related capital works projects. We are also working closely with our post-secondary institutions and private universities so that they will be able to announce their minimum entrance requirements under the new system in the earliest possible instance.
The “ 334” reform is iconic which will lead us to a new era of quality education. We look forward to working with all key stakeholders to ensure its success.
I would like to thank HUCOM once again for its steer and support in our road of education reform. May I wish you all a productive and useful discussion today.