The Policy Address 2000

Early Childhood Education - Quality First

57. Early childhood is the formative stage for psychological and intellectual development. It provides the foundation for developing the capabilities and interest in life-long learning. We must ensure that no child is deprived of the chance to enjoy early childhood education for financial reasons, so we intend to relax the requirements of the Kindergarten Fee Remission Scheme from this school year onwards to benefit more families. At the same time, we will ask schools to strengthen their quality assurance and to be more transparent in their operations so that the quality of teaching will be enhanced.

58. To upgrade the quality of teachers, we have decided to raise the entry requirements of all newly appointed kindergarten teachers. They will need five passes in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination, including Chinese and English, starting from the 2001-2002 school year. Starting from the 2003-2004 school year, they will be required to complete at least one year of pre-service training. In addition, the ratio of teachers to pupils for half-day and whole-day schooling will both be improved from 1:30 and 1:20 respectively to 1:15 by stages within three years. Within the next five years, we will make arrangements for all serving kindergarten principals and child care centre supervisors to attend courses leading to the Certificate in Early Childhood Education.

59. The Education Department and Social Welfare Department are currently examining further harmonisation of kindergartens and child care centres including the mode of subsidy and training of teachers. They are expected to come up with recommendations within one year. The Government has earmarked a sum of $100 million for the implementation of the recommendations in the next financial year.

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