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LCQ7: Reading literacy and Chinese standard of Hong Kong students

     Following is a question by the Hon Andrew Leung and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Education, Mr Kenneth Chen, in the Legislative Council today (December 16):


     According to the Examination Reports of the 2009 Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination and the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination published by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, most students did not have good and extensive reading habits, resulting in their compositions being empty in contents, their answers provided at oral examinations lacking substance, as well as their failure to cite current affairs and history accurately. The problem of errors in their choice of Chinese characters is also serious, which is a worrying situation. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that there have been comments that since examination is the basis of the mode of learning for primary and secondary school students, they seldom take the initiative to read materials beyond the scope of examination, whether the Government had launched any new programme in the past five years to encourage students to engage in more extra-curricular reading, so as to enhance their knowledge; if it had, whether it has assessed its effectiveness; if it had not launched such a programme, whether it will consider launching such a programme; and

(b) given that there have been comments that the problem of making errors in the choice of Chinese characters by students has reflected the decline in their proficiency in the Chinese language, and that such a decline will in turn adversely affect students'thinking skills, what solutions the Government has in place to deal with this situation?



(a) The Education Bureau has been attaching much importance to promoting reading among students to develop their capabilities for learning to learn. 'Reading to Learn' is one of the four Key Tasks in the curriculum reform. To implement the related measures, the Bureau has strived to develop relevant learning and teaching resources, provide professional development programmes for teachers as well as promoting research and development projects. In addition, public-sector schools are provided with the Extensive Reading Grant to procure reading materials for students. Parent education is promoted through seminars and publications to convey the important message of cultivating children's interest and habit in reading at an early age.

     In recent years, Hong Kong students have achieved a marked improvement in reading literacy. In the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study(PIRLS) and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) conducted in 2006, Hong Kong students have ranked second and third respectively in reading literacy. The efforts made by the education sector in promoting reading have borne fruit.

     We will continue to promote the 'Reading to Learn' culture in schools to develop students'reading interest, habit and competence so as to provide them with a good foundation for lifelong learning.

(b) We appreciate the public's expectations of the Chinese standard of Hong Kong students. In the 2009 reports of the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) and the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE), the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority pinpointed some candidates'weaknesses with a view to increasing the awareness of students and teachers so that students'Chinese standard can be improved with better learning and teaching. In fact, according to the 2007-2009 data, there is a continuous increase in the percentage of day school first attempters in HKCEE Chinese Language obtaining Level 2 or above, from 71.6% in 2007 to 73.3% in 2009. The percentage of day school first attempters in HKALE Chinese Language and Culture obtaining Grade E or above have also continuously increased from 94.1% in 2007 to 94.7% in 2009.  

     Hong Kong students'performance in various assessment projects (including international studies) has reflected that they are making continuous improvement in their Chinese standard. In particular, Hong Kong students'reading ability is consistently higher than the international standard. We therefore should not conclude that our students'Chinese Language and thinking standards and thinking skills are deteriorating, when in fact only certain candidates have written wrong Chinese characters in public examinations. Besides, starting from the curriculum reform in 2001, we have already reinforced the development of students'thinking skills in all Key Learning Areas. We recognise that our students have room for improvement, and we will continue to further improve the curriculum, and provide teachers with professional development opportunities so as to enhance the effectiveness of learning and teaching. We hope to work closely together with different stakeholders in striving to improve the language standard of our students.

Ends/Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Issued at HKT 14:16


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