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Monday, July 4, 2016, 22:43

Think tank urges improvements to education system

By Willa Wu

HONG KONG — A local think tank said on Monday the city should work together to improve Hong Kong’s education system.

It aimed at better preparing the city's next generation with a broader vision and a deep understanding in one discipline to cope with a rapidly changing world and unexpected challenges.

The think tank – Education 2.1 – has put forward four major recommendations to help students. This is after 18 months of research and discussion among over 400 stakeholders.

The recommendations include: Changing Hong Kong’s exam-oriented culture to expand the scope for learning; creating equitable paths for further studies; making schools learning communities for principals and teachers; and developing a platform to optimize students’ experiences.

The think tank comprises 17 members from business community, incumbent and former university administrators, academics, school principals, education associations and research institutions. It stressed that giving students a comprehensive set of values was also very important.

Group convener Antony Leung Kam-chung said the think tank was established to help the younger generation adapt to the future. He hoped the group and its recommendations would encourage discussions in society.

He said education stakeholders should realize Hong Kong’s future economic success is closely connected with innovation and startup businesses.

Principal Investigator Cheng Kai-ming said the recommendations did not aim to start new structural reforms. Rather they were expected to remind people it was time to embrace a more diversified system of education.

He also noted that the group did not allocate all responsibility for education reform to the government.

It strived to mobilize society to improve the education system – such as building the "Big Education Platform". This would allow different organizations to share resources, collaborate with schools with other partners, he added.

According to group member Tai Hey-lay, who is also the special adviser to the president of the Education University of Hong Kong, the city has over 200 organizations working on enhancing the education system. He praised the platform as a "good means for education equality". It could provide extensive access of study resources to less privileged students.

He also noted that the group would release a more in-depth report in September.

Leung, Cheng and Tai were three major figures behind the city’s education reforms that started in 2000. The reforms, put forward by the Education Commission and endorsed by then chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, covered the curricula, the assessment mechanisms and the admission systems to different stages of education.

Group member Halina Poon Suk-han, who is also the principal of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Sun Kei Secondary School, said the role of teachers in cultivating future talent could not be neglected.

She suggested the principals should free teachers up from unnecessary paperwork.

Poon said the government should also grant more capital and staff to lighten teachers’ burdens to give teachers more time for further studies.

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