SCMP Saturday, December 9, 2000

Team provides feedback on changes


A high-level liaison team of senior educators set up to advise the Government on implementing proposals for education reform has suggested "timely adjustments" to the speed and direction of reform.
The Education Reform Liaison Team was set up by the Education and Manpower Bureau in September after the Government accepted Education Commission proposals on primary and secondary education. The six-member team is headed by Tai Hay-lap, who chairs the commission's working group on early childhood and basic education.
Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower Tai Keen-man said the team was responsible for explaining to the public and educators the underlying rationale and implementation programme of the reforms.
"The team has been collating feedback from the community and evaluating the impact of various initiatives and, where necessary, suggesting timely adjustment to the pace or direction of reform," he said.
It has discussed the capacity enhancement grant - a three-year fund for alleviating teachers' workload, and senior secondary colleges. It now plans to consider the basic competency assessment and Secondary One admissions, and is in discussion over the "through-train" system. The Education Commission recommends the through-train, under which children would pass automatically from primary school to a linked secondary school without further selection.
"Some sponsoring bodies have put forward the idea of forming too many through-trains, rather than one primary school linked to one secondary school," Cheung Kwok-wah, associate dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong and a member of the liaison team. "We also reiterate that there should not be any entry examination for the primary school students entering the linked schools."
Other team members include Professor Chung Yue-ping, dean of the Faculty of Education at the Chinese University; Ip Cho-yin, principal of Pui Kiu Middle School; Chan Wing-kwong, principal of Po Leung Kuk Luk Hing Too Primary School in Tseung Kwan O; and Lee Shung-tak, council member of Hong Kong Caritas.
Cheung Man-kwong, president of the Professional Teachers' Union and a member of the Education Commission, said it was not surprising that no representative of the union was appointed to the liaison team. "It's more or less a government body and the Government prefers the people it trusts," he said.