Friday, 22 October 2004

Hong Kong is Changing Its Education System

See news (in Chinese) here and here.

Hong Kong has been using a British education system: 6 years primary, 5 year secondary, 2 years pre-university and 3 year university. China has always been in a different system: 6 years primary, 6 year secondary (3 junior and 3 senior) and 4 year university, so are some of the western countries, including USA. Now that Hong Kong is part of China since 1997, (it has always been, historically, it has been on load to Britain for 100 years) it is natural that the government should consider harmonisation of the education system with the Chinese system.

The first editorial cited above commented on how weak the government officials are. This is a policy under consideration for couple of years. The author suggested that the official should come out and demonstrate leadership. This is a good thing for Hong Kong and should not worry too much about unfounded criticism.

The second editorial tried to convince the readers that it is a good move by looking at the positive and negative aspects of the change. I found the intention good, but the argument weak. One of the major argument is that 4 year university will promote independent thinking and prepare Hong Kong citizens for the new challenge ahead. This is such a general statement that it hardly makes any sense at all. The total number of years of study is the SAME! Changing the students from one environment to another does not necessarily produce better outcome. I believe in early preparation for fundamental human quality. Higher education is for sharpening the skill and preparation for career.

Sure, the running cost of universities in Hong Kong is much higher than that of the secondary schools which used to provide that "change-over" year of education. The issue is about managing the change and funding the cost of implementing that change. The bottom line should be how to provide the best education at an affordable cost to people in Hong Kong.

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