The Policy Address 2000

School Education - All Round Development

60. At present, only 85% of Secondary 3 students from public sector schools have subsidised Secondary 4 places, while another 5% receive subsidised vocational training. Starting from the 2002-2003 school year, Secondary 3 students from public sector schools who are capable and want to continue with their studies will be provided with subsidised Secondary 4 places or vocational training. In order to meet the demand, we plan to provide about 6 000 more subsidised school places before the 2003-2004 school year. We expect this will incur an extra $740 million in recurrent expenditure by 2007-2008.

61. We will also provide additional resources and professional services to help schools reform the school curriculum and improve teaching methods. This will make learning more interesting, and help students to enjoy all-round development. At the senior secondary school level, we will increase the range of learning options to allow students more choice of schools and subjects according to their abilities and interests. The rigid divide between the arts and science streams will be removed and equal emphasis will be placed on the acquisition of knowledge, skills and positive values. And, we have already announced that we will provide $500 million this school year to implement the principle of "teaching students according to their aptitude" more effectively. Teachers will be freed up to concentrate on their teaching duties and cater to students' individual needs. This will enable outstanding students to further develop their potential while allowing under-achievers to catch up. An additional $10 million will be allocated to design enrichment courses for gifted students. The Government will also continue to promote integrated education in secondary and primary schools so that children with special education needs can receive appropriate education in regular schools. It is estimated that the additional expenditure involved will be increased to $50 million in four years.

62. Learning should be comprehensive. It should not be confined within the bounds of schools or books. Children should participate in extra-curricular activities more often and strive to achieve all-round development. I earnestly hope that schools will capitalise on the opportunities for improvement created by the reforms. Schools should have more scope for moral and civic education courses enabling the students to develop sound beliefs, determination and integrity, leadership skills, a sense of social responsibility and positive attitudes towards life. I have asked the Education and Manpower Bureau to work with other relevant departments and so-called uniformed groups, such as the Red Cross, the scouts and the guides to arrange more activities to help students develop their potential in these areas.

63. We must speed up the School Improvement Programme to provide a better teaching and learning environment. While there has been a remarkable improvement in the design of school premises completed this year, many schools are still using premises built to the standards adopted some three to four decades ago. Our target is to complete the feasibility studies for the improvement of 358 school premises within two years. More than $10 billion has been earmarked for the phased implementation of the programme. For those schools where improvement is feasible, the works will be completed before the end of the 2004-2005 school year.

64. As parents are the first teachers of children, parent-school co-operation is essential to bring out the best in our youngsters. In the coming year, the Government will set aside $50 million to support parent education and to encourage parents to participate in educational affairs. The Education, Health and Social Welfare Departments will collaborate to produce reference materials featuring children's physical, psychological and intellectual development for parents and child care workers.

65. The Government will consider further promoting flexitime to enable working parents to spend more time with their children and to participate more actively in school affairs and activities organised by parent-teacher associations. I hope that employers will allow more flexibility to enable working parents to give their children better care and attention.

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