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LCQ14: Nurturing gifted children

    Following is a question by the Hon Lau Kong-wah and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (November 14):


     About nurturing gifted children, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it has compiled statistics on the number of gifted children identified in each of the past two years, and of the channels through which the gifted children are identified by the authorities;

(b) of the current number of schools set up for nurturing gifted children and their average tuition fees; whether it has assessed if the number of places offered by such schools can meet the demand, and whether the tuition fees charged by such schools are beyond the affordability of low-income parents; and

(c) whether it has formulated a policy on nurturing gifted children; if not, whether it will assess if there is a need to formulate such a policy?


Madam President,

(a) There are different definitions and interpretations of "giftedness".  At present, the education sector generally adopts a broad definition by using multiple intelligences to identify the gifted and talented.  Given these circumstances, there is not an agreed, single, standard tool or means to identify giftedness or to test the multiple intelligences, and hence no statistics of the number of gifted students has been compiled or kept by the Government. In fact, gifted students have different areas of talent and potential, the statistics, even available elsewhere, might well serve to reflect the tip of many examples of different gifted students in certain domains only.

     Gifted education in Hong Kong is implemented through a three-tier framework. Level 1 provision is delivered through classroom learning and teaching to develop the potential of all students. Level 2 provision includes pull-out programmes outside regular classes.  Level 3 provision is for exceptionally gifted students through off-site programmes.  

     In respect of school-based gifted education provision at Level 1 and Level 2, the Education Bureau suggests to schools that they should adopt multiple methods and criteria to assess the abilities and performance of students, including behavioural checklists, teacher/parent/peer/self nomination, student portfolios and other standardised tests, and avoid making judgment on giftedness through a single test or source of information.

     The Education Bureau started the Support Measures for the Exceptionally Gifted Students Scheme in 2001 to offer off-site support to exceptionally gifted students in need for advanced enrichment and extension. The students are selected through annual territory-wide school nomination and accepted as members of the Scheme. Since 2001, 6 000 students have been admitted.

(b) For the number of schools with gifted education provision, there are currently over 130 schools in the gifted education networks. These networks consist of 57 schools participating in the Gifted Education Partner School Network organised by the EDB since 2004, and 73 schools participating in the Quality Education Fund Thematic Network (Gifted Education). Moreover, about 290 schools participate in various EDB schemes since 2004 for promoting school-based gifted education programmes, and encourage their teachers to study the professional (practical) training programmes run by EDB. The school-based programmes and activities organised by schools are generally offered free to students as part of the education programme of the school.

     In addition to these, over 200 secondary schools nominate their students to EDB's Support Measures for the Exceptionally Gifted Students Scheme, started since 2001. Most courses offered under the Scheme are free of charge, except some university credit-bearing courses which are charged by the universities concerned.  Universities have, however, put in place an exemption/remission mechanism to ensure that the gifted students from low-income families are accommodated.

(c) All along the government has clear policy on gifted education. The Education Commission Report No.4 in 1990 probed the definition of giftedness, the learning needs of the gifted, and recommended the direction for the preliminary development of gifted education in Hong Kong. The mission of gifted education is to fully explore and develop the potential of gifted students systematically and strategically by providing them with opportunities to receive education at appropriate levels in a flexible learning and teaching environment. The policy aims to meet the needs and attributes of gifted students, and provide training and guidance support to their teachers and parents and to encourage mainstream schools to cater for the needs of gifted students through school-based gifted programmes instead of placing them in designated schools.

     The three-level gifted education framework as outlined in reply (a) above, i.e. L1 and 2 (school-based provision), L3 (off-site provision) is operationalised on the following policy principles:

* Every child possesses individual talent that can be nurtured in all dedicated educational settings like classroom learning, pull-out programmes and off-site support.
* Every child possesses their own uniqueness, and more outstanding endowment out of their multiple intelligences.

     An evaluation of the Support Measures for the Exceptionally Gifted Students Scheme was completed in January 2006 through survey, case studies and interviews.  The results demonstrated that the Scheme was able to enhance students' academic knowledge, self-confidence, learning ability and widened their perspectives.

     The establishment of the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education will further strengthen the provision of gifted education in school.

Ends/Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Issued at HKT 12:47


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