A New Direction for Hong Kong
Policy Address

Education Reform

88.       The quality of our population hinges on education. We have, since reunification, spent 10 years developing our education on all fronts and taking forward education reform. The education reform has produced the desired outcomes. I would like to thank our teachers for their persistent efforts over the years, without which the results we see today would not be possible. The education reform process has now entered a consolidation and fine-tuning stage. This will help consolidate achievements, and meet the reasonable demands of stakeholders.

12-year Free Education

89.       Hong Kong has been providing nine-year free education through public primary and secondary schools. Some people consider that this should extend to senior secondary forms. To demonstrate the Government's steadfast commitment to education and the nurturing of our next generation, we will offer 12-year free education starting from the 2008-09 school year. We will fully subsidise students in public secondary schools, including senior secondary education. For students under the new three-year senior secondary education structure starting from the 2009-10 school year, we will provide 12-year free education. For those secondary students under the existing structure, we will provide 13-year free education.

90.       Some Form Three school leavers have chosen to enrol in full-time subsidised courses provided by the Vocational Training Council instead of pursuing senior secondary education. Starting from the 2008-09 school year, the Government will fully subsidise these courses to provide an alternative free avenue for senior secondary students to further their studies other than in mainstream education.

Small-class Teaching

91.        I have pledged to implement small-class teaching in my Election Platform. Starting from the 2009-10 school year, small-class teaching will be implemented in Primary One of suitable public primary schools by phases. By the 2014-15 school year, this initiative will be extended to all classes from Primary One to Primary Six. Some people consider that small-class teaching is just one of the means to enhance the quality of teaching and learning. As such, a one-size-fits-all approach requiring all schools to reduce the class size should be avoided. In fact, in some school nets, if all schools implemented small-class teaching, there would be a shortage of school places. The full implementation of small-class teaching hinges on having enough teachers and classrooms. Therefore we need to be flexible and pragmatic in implementing this policy. As the preference and conditions necessary for small-class teaching vary among schools, the Education Bureau will allow flexibility and fully consult the stakeholders and respect their opinions in formulating detailed implementation arrangements, which are expected to be finalised by September 2008.