Transcript of remarks by SED

     Following is a transcript of remarks (English portion) by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, at a media session on the Report of the Task Force to Review Learning and Teaching Materials this afternoon (December 13):

Secretary for Education: I have already accepted the recommendations proposed by the Task Force to Review Learning and Teaching Materials, which was set up to examine issues arising from the policy of textbook debundling.    

     As most of the printed textbooks are still being bundled and prices have not been reduced, the Task Force proposed to open up the market by allowing greater diversification to achieve our objectives.

     They noted that printed textbooks are not the only kind of effective learning materials. Nowadays, using e-learning resources to provide interactive and diversified learning has become the major trend of education. Schools have a sound IT infrastructure and the Government has already launched the Internet Learning Support Programme to help low-income families to acquire affordable computers and Internet access services.

     The Task Force opined that this is an opportune time to encourage the implementation of e-learning by moving away from its existing supportive role to a more vital role of "e-textbooks". It means that they should form a complete and independent set of learning and teaching materials developed according to curriculum requirements.

     The use of e-textbooks will not be compulsory. It is to provide the market with another option and its implementation will depend on the degree of readiness of schools, teachers and students. To assist schools in adapting to this new arrangement and this new learning mode, e-textbooks should have a print-on-demand function that would allow teachers to print the contents on a needs basis.

     The Task Force stressed that the Government should provide incentives and assistance to attract more organisations to join the e-textbook market so as to provide users with greater choice of quality and reasonably priced learning materials.

     We are now devising the scheme and relevant measures and details will be made available to the public in the first quarter of next year.

Reporter: How can you make sure textbooks will be cheaper when publishers can still do it in the old way?

Secretary for Education: The thing is that we are adopting the recommendation of the working group (Task Force) to open up a new market, a market where we would have greater use of e-learning resources. I think we all understand that there are already a lot of e-learning materials available in the market. But unfortunately, they are not organised according to the requirements of our curriculum development. And so we would, under the new scheme which we will introduce next year, ask those who would provide the new textbooks to use a new e-version in accordance with the requirement of the curriculum. In other words, using an e-textbook will be the same as using a traditional textbook except that the medium of provision of the materials is a bit different. But as I've said, in order to cater for some requirements whereby teachers feel more comfortable to have something in print which they can hold on to, we are asking the provision of e-textbooks to provide a print-on-demand function. In other words, the basic thing is an electronic version but, if necessary, there will be opportunities and arrangements for them to print it, so that everyone can have a copy in front of them.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Issued at HKT 18:18