[Archive] Education Commission Report No.7 Quality School Education - RELATED REFORMS
QUALITY SCHOOL EDUCATION
7.1 In order that recommendations made in previous chapters will have their full impact on quality school education, it is necessary to carry out related reforms, in particular, in curriculum development and examinations. This Report will make brief reference to such reforms, which should be considered further by relevant education-related bodies.
Review of the education-related executive and advisory structure
Role of the executive bodies
7.2 SEM, who heads EMB, is responsible for formulating overall policies on education and manpower training, securing and allocating the resources needed to implement them, monitoring the implementation of programmes by various executive agencies, and reviewing progress to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.
7.3 D of E, who heads ED, implements educational policies at kindergarten, primary and secondary levels which include, inter alia, provision and allocation of public sector school places, provision of facilities for children with special educational needs, developing school curriculum, monitoring teaching standards, and administering the public funding to schools. ED also contributes to policy development and review.
7.4 During consultation, many respondents suggested that the role and structure of ED should be reviewed to promote quality reform more effectively.
7.5 We consider that ED should be a pioneer in practising quality reform. We welcome ED's plan to set up a quality assurance resource corner which is open to ED staff and the public for access to information on quality education. Meanwhile, ED should initiate internal reform with a view to maximising the use of its resources and streamlining the interface between its various divisions. We support its plans to restructure its divisions for school inspections, with a view to conducting open, transparent and more effective whole-school inspections to identify the strengths and weaknesses of individual schools, and to advise on improvement measures and appropriate follow-up actions. Furthermore, we recommend that ED should :
- actively reinforce its vision and mission, taking into account changes in the community's demand, and the need to monitor the Department's services, facilitate public understanding and enlist support from them;
- review its management structure and operations to better co-ordinate different educational initiatives to maximise their impact on quality education; and
- devolve as much administrative and financial authority as possible to all schools and encourage school-based management reforms.
Role of the advisory bodies
7.6 Members of the community play an important part in the planning, development and management of the education system at all levels, through active participation in the education-related advisory bodies, executive bodies, management committees of schools and governing bodies of tertiary institutions. Among the various education-related executive and advisory bodies, some 30 are relevant to the school sector.
7.7 During consultation, concern was expressed over the large number of education-related executive and advisory bodies, their roles and relationship with one another, and whether their advice had been effectively channelled to the relevant government departments. There has been concern as to whether education policies are being effectively implemented through these bodies to achieve the desired results. In particular, many respondents pointed out that the EC should strengthen its monitoring role over the implementation of various education initiatives, and the allocation of resources to different education sectors.
7.8 The consultation document proposed that EMB should review the relationship between the many educational advisory bodies and executive bodies. The roles of EC, BoE and other educational advisory committees should be more clearly defined where appropriate.
7.9 To map out an effective executive and advisory structure on education matters, we have recommended in paragraph 3.19 above that a study should be commissioned by EMB, with reference to the best practices overseas and in collaboration with local and overseas experts and professionals.
Review of curriculum and examinations
7.10 With the pluralistic development of school education and the need to meet the changing community demand in a more responsive manner, participation of front-line educators, in particular experienced teachers, principals and teaching staff of the tertiary institutions, in the evolution of the school system should be maximised.
7.11 On curriculum development, we recommend ED (in particular the Curriculum Development Institute (CDI)) and the Curriculum Development Council (CDC) should examine in collaboration with front-line education workers the ways to strengthen students' language ability, numeracy, information technology literacy, moral and civic education in the overall development of curriculum; and to examine how school-based curriculum can be developed by schools to best suit the needs of students.
7.12 Some respondents suggested during consultation that as curriculum development required a high degree of flexibility and creativity, it would be in the interest of quality school education if the CDI could develop into a more autonomous professional body. We recommend that the role of CDI and CDC, and their relationship with the Hong Kong Examinations Authority (HKEA) and other education-related bodies should be considered in the overall review of the education-related executive and advisory structure.
7.13 Examinations and assessments play an integral part in school education for measuring performance at a specific stage and for comparability with standards world-wide. In recent years, there have been positive changes in the role of examinations in education systems in overseas countries. We consider examinations a valuable tool in assuring quality in education, which should be modified to cope with changes in the development of education system.
7.14 The consultation document suggested that HKEA should make proposals to assure the minimum attainment of students, for example, by the introduction of modular examinations to give formal recognition to the academic achievement of students who perform less well. During consultation, some respondents welcomed the modular examinations as a means to increase the confidence of low-achievers, others had reservations that these might be perceived as "second-rate" examinations. We note that the HKEA is currently considering the feasibility of introducing optional independent proficiency tests in Chinese and English to Secondary Four and S5 students as well as the general public. The objective is to reflect their ability in mastering some basic language skills that are required for junior level employment or admission to certain vocational courses. HKEA is currently consulting the employers and employer associations on the proposal and will then consider the issue again.
7.15 We share the views of many respondents that a balanced assessment of students' abilities should be conducted on a continuous basis, and should include not only the acquisition of knowledge but also the attitude and behaviour of students. We recommend the Government and the education community to foster among the general public a proper appreciation of the aims of all-round education and the importance of comprehensive quality education.
7.16 We recommend the Government to, together with education bodies such as the HKEA, examine the feasibility of and encourage public acceptance of considering students' school-based assessment alongside their public examination results, so that their academic standard will not be determined by a single examination. In this aspect, we note that the HKEA has included school-based assessment component in some HKCEE and Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination subjects. Consideration can be given to extending this to more subjects. We also note that the tertiary institutions are examining the possibility of making conditional offer to S5 or Secondary Six (S6) students based not just on their HKCEE results, but also on the assessment of their schools. The advantage of a conditional offer is that having received it, the students can spend some of their S6 and Secondary Seven in other equally educational, albeit non-academic pursuit. To promote development of all-round education, we also welcome the initiative by some tertiary institutions to adjust their admission criteria to take account of non-academic performance of students. We recommend other tertiary institutions to consider likewise.
7.17 To respond more effectively to the changing community demand, we recommend that EMB should consider in collaboration with ED (particularly CDI), CDC, HKEA and tertiary institutions the interface of school curriculum, examinations and tertiary admission criteria.
More choices to parents
7.18 In the Government's Statement of Aims published in 1993, we recognize that one of the aims of education is that as far as possible, parents should be able to choose the type of education best suited to their children, and should have adequate information on which to make informed choices.
7.19 In the light of the need to inculcate a quality culture in the school system by providing, inter alia, more flexibility in school-based development and more educational choice to parents, we have recommended in paragraph 4.25 that ED should review how the DSS can be made more attractive to aided schools aspiring for even greater management and funding flexibility. In this connection, we recommend that the Government should re-examine the role of and the administrative support to the private schools, and their interaction with the aided sector, with a view to optimising resources; encouraging school-based development which reflects the characteristics of individual schools; and developing a viable alternative to public sector school education which can provide more diversity and choices to meet the different educational needs of our younger generation.
Next major task of EC
7.20 In view of the above, and of the public demand to strengthen the interface between different education sectors, we recommend that the next major task for EC should be to review, together with relevant bodies such as the BoE, HKEA, CDC, ACTEQ, UGC, the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research and the Vocational Training Council, the academic system, including length of study, curricula and interface of different education sectors, from pre-primary to tertiary sectors, and the optimal structure for the whole education system.