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LCQ15: Assisting students with special educational needs

    Following is a question by the Hon Joseph Lee Kok-long and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Professor Arthur K C Li, in the Legislative Council today (March 1):


     On assisting students with special educational needs ("SEN") (including special learning difficulties ("SLD")), will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of students identified as having SLD by the Department of Health in each of the past five years; how the authorities assist and support such students in overcoming learning difficulties, and whether they have regularly conducted assessment for them and understood about their rehabilitation progress;

(b) whether the Education and Manpower Bureau ("EMB") has assessed the resources required for implementing support measures for students with SLD in primary and secondary schools; and

(c) of the reasons for EMB's implementing in primary schools from 2003 onwards a pilot scheme under a new funding mode in order to provide funding to assist students with SEN, but not in secondary schools?


Madam President,

(a) The number of children with specific learning difficulties (SpLD) identified by the Department of Health in the past five years is as follows:

     Year               Number of Children
     ----               ------------------
     2001                      227
     2002                      368
     2003                      559
     2004                      634
     2005                      730

     At present, to facilitate the learning of students with special educational needs (SEN), the Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB) provides additional resources to schools through various measures, including Intensive Remedial Teaching Programme, New Funding Mode, School-based Remedial Support Programme and School-based Curriculum Tailoring Programme. EMB also requests the schools to formulate a school-based policy and adopt a whole-school approach to cater for student diversity, and to establish a School Support Team to coordinate resources deployment and policy implementation.

     In the 2005/06 school year, EMB has commissioned a tertiary institution to conduct a teacher professional development course entitled "Understanding, Assessment and Teaching of pupils with SpLD". Besides, to cater for students more effectively, EMB will continue to arrange professional development courses for teachers to enhance their awareness and teaching skills in handling students with different types of SEN.

     As regards the identification of students, EMB has developed tools such as "Early Identification of Primary One Pupils with Learning Difficulties" and "The Hong Kong Specific Learning Difficulties Behaviour Checklist (For Primary School Pupils)" to facilitate schools to have early identification and support to students with learning difficulties. Students with severe difficulties should be referred to the professionals such as educational psychologists of EMB for individual assessment. The professionals will advise the teachers on adaptations in teaching in the light of the strengths and weaknesses of the students' learning. The teachers will review the students' progress in learning and provide appropriate support.

(b) In 2004/05, EMB allocated around $460 m to support students with SEN (including those with SpLD) in ordinary schools.

(c) With effect from the 2003/04 school year, EMB has implemented the New Funding Mode (NFM) Pilot Scheme in primary schools. In the current school year, 240 schools have participated in the Scheme. We are now reviewing the arrangements and effectiveness of NFM, and exploring the implementation of an appropriate support programme in secondary schools to cater for student diversity. EMB will consult the schools and related parties later this year to ascertain the mode and timetable for implementation.

Ends/Wednesday, March 1, 2006
Issued at HKT 15:01