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Teachers in HK 'Not Ready' for New Education System
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Teachers are not well prepared for a new senior secondary education system to be implemented in 2009 because they do not support the principles of the education reform fully.

This is the finding of a survey conducted by two Hong Kong Institute of Education academics. But their study also shows that most teachers would attend seminars and training courses to prepare for the new system.

Only 22.5 percent of 941 teachers polled are prepared for the new system, the study shows, with 37.2 percent saying they are not.

More than 40 percent teachers disagree that the pace of the new system's implementation is right. In contrast, only 7 percent said the government has had sufficient communication with schools for implementation of the new measures.

The new system, announced in May 2005, will shorten the four-year senior secondary education to three years. Students will have to take a new public exam in senior secondary three instead of sitting for the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) in secondary five and the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination in secondary seven.

All students, under the new system, would be able to complete secondary education without the fear of being screened out by HKCEE.

Chinese, English, Mathematics and Liberal Studies would be the core subjects and students would need to study up to three other elective subjects.

But almost 40 percent teachers, according to the survey, disagree that the new system would reduce the pressure of exams on the students and about 30 percent say it wouldn't broaden their knowledge base. Half of them agree, though, that the new system is in line with international practice.

More than 40 percent teachers disagree that Liberal Studies should be made a compulsory subject, and 35 percent oppose using school-based assessment, that is, they don't want students' performance in schools to influence their grades in public exam.

The teachers don't have a clear concept of the reform elements, the institute's head of Strategic and Academic Planning Lai Kwok-chan said. "The motivation to prepare for the new system will be affected if teachers do not support the directions fully. Teachers do not know what their responsibilities would be in 2009, and they are not actively preparing for it," he said.

Teachers are worried that the gap in the individual learning ability of students would widen under the new system.

Under the current system, some students will be screened out by HKCEE. But all students will be promoted directly to complete the senior secondary education under the new system. Therefore, teachers anticipate that individual differences among students will be more diversified, Lai said.

"Teachers think that more remedial measures should be implemented to narrow the differences," he said.

Teachers are worried also because they think that not only would their workload increase, but they would have less job security too.

The Education and Manpower Bureau will launch the third round of consultation with educators on the new curriculum and assessment in September.

The educators should take that opportunity to voice their opinion, Lai said.

The bureau, though, has had enough communication with the education sector, including organizing workshops for school management, a spokesman said. Such workshops would be organized for schools' middle management staff too.

The spokesman said schools could apply for grants to provide professional training to teachers to prepare them for the new system.

(China Daily July 10, 2006)

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