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LCQ20: Articulation opportunities for students with SEN

     Following is a question by the Hon Emily Lau Wai-hing and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (May 11):


     With regard to further education for students with visual impairment (VI) and hearing impairment (HI), will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:

(a) in the school year preceding the implementation of the whole school approach to integrated education in 1997, of the respective percentages of students with VI and HI in Hong Kong being admitted to Secondary Six (S6) after completing Secondary Five, and those being admitted to programmes funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC) after completing secondary education; in the past three years, with regard to those students with VI and HI who had attended ordinary schools under the integrated education approach, of the respective percentages of them being admitted to S6 and UGC-funded programmes; and how such percentages in 1996 and the past three years compare to the corresponding percentages for all students in Hong Kong in the respective years;

(b) whether they have assessed if, after the implementation of integrated education, the difference in the percentages of further studies for students with VI and HI and other students has been narrowed; and

(c) whether they know, in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Taiwan, how the percentages of students with VI and HI who have progressed to universities compare to the corresponding percentages for all students; whether they have made reference to the resources being injected in these countries and areas to assist students with VI and HI in pursuing further studies, as well as the measures in place to effectively enhance the opportunities for further studies for these students; if they have, of the details?



(a) The Whole School Approach to Integrated Education Programme (Programme) was launched in the 1997/98 school year, and a total of 37 secondary schools have participated in the Programme.  Since the 2008/09 school year, the Education Bureau (EDB) has been providing a Learning Support Grant for all public sector secondary schools in Hong Kong to help them implement the Whole School Approach to integrated education.  At the same time, a database was set up to collect relevant data in a systematic manner.

     Prior to the launch of the Programme, we did not have structured procedures to collect data.  Hence, there is a lack of a sound basis to compare the percentages of students with visual impairment (VI) and hearing impairment (HI) admitted to Secondary Six (S6) after completing Secondary Five (S5) and the percentages of such students admitted to programmes funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC) after completing secondary education in 1996 with the corresponding figures of the past three years (2008/09 - 2010/11 school years).  

     The relevant data on students with VI and HI and all students studying at S6 level in the past three years are listed at Annex 1.

     In interpreting the figures in the tables at Annex 1 and 2, attention should be drawn to the fact that due to the small number of students concerned, any statistical analysis or trends derived would be very unstable and a small fluctuation of data would result in drastic changes in the percentages.  Furthermore, the numbers of students with VI and HI promoted to S5 had increased a lot in these three school years, which cause the S6 promotion rates to decrease slightly.  However, the actual numbers of such students promoted to S6 remain stable.  Since the implementation of the New Senior Secondary academic structure in the 2009/10 school year, all students, including those with VI and HI, are entitled to complete S6 education.  

     The numbers of first year students with disabilities enrolled in UGC-funded programmes in the past three years are at Annex 2.

     The statistics on UGC-funded programmes were collected on voluntary self-reporting by students without the need of medical certification.  As the data collection methods and categorisation of students with disabilities adopted by UGC-funded institutions and the EDB differ, their respective data cannot be compared directly or used for calculating the percentages of such students pursuing further studies.  In any case, the EDB has all along been implementing measures to raise the articulation opportunities for students with Special Educational Needs (SEN).  These measures will briefly be introduced in the reply to part (c) of the question below.

(b) Since the 1970s, the Government has been supporting ordinary schools to cater for students with SEN, including students with VI and HI.  Further to the enactment of the Disability Discrimination Ordinance in 1996, the Government policy clearly states that all schools are required to admit students with SEN and provide them with appropriate support.  Since then, the policy on integrated education and the supporting measures have been developing and enhanced continuously.  In the early stage, the EDB set up special classes in ordinary schools, and provided centre-based support through its Resource Teaching Services Centres.  Following the launch of the Programme in the 1997/98 school year, a new funding mode for primary schools was introduced in the 2003/04 school year.  With effect from the 2008/09 school year, the EDB has further enhanced the funding arrangement for the Learning Support Grant, and started to provide all public sector secondary schools with the grant.  This clearly signifies, policywise, that all ordinary schools are required to implement the Whole School Approach.  

     Students' academic achievements and progression to further studies depend on a myriad of factors, including personal abilities, the numbers of S6 and post-secondary places, and the types of programmes available, etc.  It is therefore difficult to attribute differences in the percentage of students pursuing further studies between different groups of students to the implementation of the integrated education policy, and evaluate the policy accordingly.  Nevertheless, it remains our goal to strive to enhance the capability of schools to cater for students with SEN so that appropriate support can be provided for such students to develop their potentials.  In our reply to part (c) of the question, we will briefly introduce our arrangements to facilitate students with VI and HI in pursuing further studies.  We will continue to pay attention to the progression of students with SEN (including students with VI and HI), and provide appropriate support for them.

(c) In view of the differences in economic development, cultural background, education system, education policy and the definition of students with SEN among different places, we have not collected concrete information on the resources allocated for supporting students with SEN or the percentages of these students admitted to universities in other countries.  However, the implementation of integrated education in Hong Kong is in line with the world-wide trend.  We have been devoting resources in the forms of additional funding, professional support and training to assist schools in providing support for these students according to their needs.  The EDB will also send professionals to other countries and regions on study visits and training.

     In Hong Kong, schools and tertiary institutions generally consider applications for admission to S6 classes or other programmes based on the students' academic achievements and their performance in other aspects.  To ensure that students with SEN have equal access to education as other students, schools are required to provide assessment accommodations to these students.  Special arrangements are also made for them in public examinations.  In addition, a sub-system under the Joint University Programmes Admissions System is in place for considering their applications.  The sub-system enables these applicants with disabilities to establish at an early date what special assistance and facilities are available to them at the institutions of their choice.  It also helps the UGC-funded institutions to provide help and advice to such applicants at an early stage and give appropriate consideration to their applications.  Applicants may receive an offer under the sub-system but they are not obliged to accept it immediately.  Their applications will continue to be considered in the Main Round exercise to see if an even better offer can be made to them.

Ends/Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Issued at HKT 12:28


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