[Archive] Education Commission Report No.7 Quality School Education - INCENTIVES TO ENCOURAGE QUALITY SCHOOL EDUCATION
INCENTIVES TO ENCOURAGE QUALITY SCHOOL
5.1 We have suggested in Chapter 1 of the Report that in order to build a quality culture, one necessary measure is to provide schools with the resources and incentives to encourage quality initiatives that meet their own needs, to pursue excellence and to make continuous improvement.
5.2 The consultation document suggested that incentive grants in the form of a Quality Development Grant should be introduced to fund innovative projects on a competitive basis, and that schools should be given cash awards to recognise their value-added performance. The spirit of the proposal was supported during consultation. However, concern was raised over the following :
- the amount of incentive grants as suggested in the consultation document was not adequate;
- the provision of cash awards might "commercialise" education and promote "elite education" which would over-emphasise the importance of academic achievement; and
- the incentive grants should be open to all schools including kindergartens, primary schools and special schools.
Quality Education Development Fund
5.3 Taking into account the public views and the general support for an incentive scheme to promote quality education, we recommend that a Quality Education Development Fund (QEDF) be set up to fund one-off projects for the improvement of education quality on a competitive basis. Applications from schools, educational bodies, teaching professionals, individuals, ED or EMB may also be considered. We recommend the QEDF should fund :
- school-based innovative projects and experiments aimed to improve the quality of education at all levels. Examples are innovative projects to promote the application of information technology in teaching and learning, new teaching methods and development of school-based curriculum to enhance students' knowledge or skills, programs to increase students' civic awareness or to develop their potential, or experiential training to raise the self-esteem of low academic achievers;
- awards for outstanding performance of schools and teachers in any or all of the major domains of education. Consideration can be given to awarding schools with the best or better value-added performance within the same quality circle formed on a voluntary basis;
- promotion of a wide range of extra-curricular activities to provide students with an all-round education. Schools may apply for the QEDF to support school-based voluntary services, sports activities, study trips to other parts of China and overseas countries, school-based activities/facilities/equipment to develop the potential of students in non-academic areas;
- educational researches and consultancies undertaken by schools/educational bodies/individuals which may help address specific issues and problems of education. Examples are the development of quality indicators, innovative school designs, computer-assisted teaching and learning software;
- school-based training courses for key players to meet the needs of individual schools, groups of schools within the same quality circle or with similar background, in the development of quality school education; and
- institutional reviews to be carried out by outside experts to monitor the quality of schools and non-UGC funded institutions, and to disseminate good practices where appropriate.
5.4 All approved projects should be subject to close monitoring and periodic external evaluation.
5.5 We recommend that the Government should set aside a substantial amount of money to establish the QEDF as soon as possible. We believe that the establishment of the QEDF will help address public concern over the lack of adequate financial support and commitment to encourage quality initiatives. It will also provide an effective means to encourage bottom-up initiatives, and the opportunity for the community to participate in the building of quality culture.
5.6 The QEDF should also be allowed to seek and accept sponsorship from the community in various forms, e.g. sponsorship of specified projects or contribution to the QEDF direct on a "matching" basis (i.e. with the Government also contributing an additional amount) to promote quality school development initiatives.
5.7 Taking into account the broad scope of the QEDF which can fund, inter alia, innovative projects related to language and information technology, we recommend the Government to examine the interface between the QEDF and other education-related funds such as the Language Fund, with a view to optimising resource allocation and management.
5.8 We also recommend to set up a support unit in EMB to serve and manage the QEDF. The support unit should be responsible for :
- managing and inviting applications for the fund;
- processing applications;
- monitoring progress of projects and reviewing progress with grantees;
- evaluating projects on completion;
- formulating recommendations on the basis of the findings from research and development projects funded by QEDF;
- disseminating the good practices and experience resulting from projects funded by QEDF;
- encouraging bottom-up initiatives;
- managing the award scheme for meritorious schools/teachers;
- publishing periodic reports on the state of education quality in schools; and
- engaging outside experts to conduct institutional reviews.
5.9 We envisage that the support unit will report to SEM who has overall responsibility for the proper management and use of the QEDF. He will seek the advice of EC generally in the assessment of applications and the disbursement of funds, and the advice of BoE may be sought where applications relate to individual schools. Other relevant agencies or advisory bodies will be consulted as appropriate.
5.10 In order to streamline the various efforts to promote quality school education, we recommend the Government to examine in due course the interface of the support unit with the future quality assurance mechanism, in the context of the overall review of the education structure mentioned in paragraph 3.19.