The Policy Address 2000

B. Holistic Education for the New Century

Education Reform - Vision and Commitment

51. Our education policy is at the very core of our social policy. And our most important long-term social investment is in education.

52. I have stressed right from the beginning of my tenure that we would do our best to cultivate the talents needed by Hong Kong in the future. In recent years, the resources allocated to education have continued to rise significantly despite overall budgetary constraints. Total spending on education this financial year amounts to $54.4 billion, a jump of 43% compared to that before our reunification. It now represents 4.25% of our Gross Domestic Product. To improve the quality of education, we set up a $5 billion Quality Education Fund. So far, over 2 700 projects have been approved at a total cost of over $1.5 billion, benefiting about 1 200 schools. In addition, we are investing over $3.2 billion in a five-year IT in education strategy which will benefit all secondary and primary students. The last three years have seen an increase of over 2 800 teaching posts, improving the teacher-pupil ratio by 10% to 1:21.8 in primary schools and 1:18.7 in secondary schools. The percentage of whole-day primary school places has risen from 20% to 40%, and we are confident that our goal of providing whole-day schooling for virtually all primary students can be achieved by 2007. The proportion of qualified kindergarten teachers has increased from 40% to 60%. Graduate posts in primary schools have increased from less than 5% to 20%. To introduce diversity, we have allocated five sites for the construction of quality private schools, and have allocated school premises for nine Direct Subsidy Scheme schools. We have certainly done a lot during the past three years.

53. However, the education system of old can no longer meet the challenges of the new age. Embracing the knowledge-based New Economy requires a large pool of talent equipped with the right skills and creativity. Rapid advances in science and technology have unleashed a series of perplexing social and ethical issues, which demand more critical and analytical thinking by our young people. Following our reunification, the need to groom a new generation of leaders has become ever more pressing. Therefore, without sweeping reforms of our education system, the quality of our education would not be able to meet the requirements for social development and the community's expectations.

[more ...]

Government Information Centre