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LCQ8: The Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education
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     Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Man-kwong and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (December 21):

Questions:

     The Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education ("the Academy"), which was established at a funding of $200 million, commenced its services in the 2008-2009 school year.  The Academy aims to focus on the provision of challenging training programmes for gifted students aged between 10 and 18 to help them develop talents and potentials in a wide range of specialist areas, as well as rendering teachers and parents with professional training and support, so as to tie in with the development of gifted education in Hong Kong.  I have recently received views from teachers pointing out that the Academy has focused on the provision of programmes and support mainly for secondary students without ever accepting any nomination made by primary schools, thus neglecting the needs of gifted senior primary students aged 10 or above.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it knows the number of gifted students in primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong in the past three years, with a breakdown by the grade and area of giftedness of students;

(b) whether it knows the number of students enrolled by the Academy in each of the past three years, with a breakdown by channel of selection (e.g. school nomination and open competition, etc.) and area of giftedness of students;

(c) whether it knows the respective numbers, types, contents, service targets and numbers of participants, etc. of the various types of programmes, seminars, talks, workshops and other support services rendered by the Academy to students, teachers and parents in the past three years, together with a breakdown;

(d) whether the authorities have established any mechanism to monitor the quality of the programmes and support services of the Academy (including the formulation, contents and qualifications of teachers of the programmes, etc.), so as to ensure that the students' potentials are suitably nurtured and developed; if they have, of the details;

(e) whether it knows the details of the expenditures, revenues, reserves and budgets of the Academy for the past three years and the current year; and

(f) whether the authorities have planned to review the overall effectiveness of the Academy; whether it will enhance the training for gifted primary students on the basis of the current support which focuses on secondary students, including inviting primary schools to nominate students to the Academy, providing more gifted programmes targeting at primary students, and even extending support services to gifted students aged under 10; if they have, of the details?

Reply:

President,

(a) Based on the broad definition of giftedness stipulated in Report No. 4 of the Education Commission, each student may possess some special talents or potential, hence there cannot be a definite number of gifted students.  Schools are given support and are encouraged to adopt a school-based approach to cater for the needs of gifted or high ability students of their own.

     The Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education (HKAGE), which is charged to provide off-site support for exceptionally gifted students, currently provides services to secondary school students aged 10-18 years.  The number of students admitted from 2008 to 2011, the first three years of operation, is shown in the table below.

School       Number of
Year         Students Admitted
2008/09           1 212
2009/10           1 409
2010/11           1 340
Total             3 961

     From 2008 to 2011, the domain and grade level distribution of all admitted students are as follows:

School      Domain       Number of
Year                     Students Admitted*
2008-2011  Humanities                 857
           Leadership                 864
           Mathematics              1 249
           Sciences                 1 159

School                   Number of
Year       Grade       Students Admitted*
2008-2011     S1                      141
              S2                      305
              S3                      709
              S4                    1 413
              S5                      540
              S6                      987
              S7                       43

*Note: Some students were admitted into more than one domain, therefore the total numbers of admitted students under all domains are slightly larger than the total number of students admitted in each year.

     In the initial years of operation, the HKAGE focused on provision at secondary level, since it was considered more prudent for the HKAGE to avoid being overly ambitious.  Also, the partners of HKAGE have relatively more experience with programmes at secondary level.  Nevertheless, the HKAGE has also been piloting programmes for primary schools (please see reply to (f)), as well as accepting individual, exceptionally gifted primary students into the programmes meant for secondary students.  With a few years' experience gained, the HKAGE will pilot more programmes for primary schools in the coming years.

(b) For the past three years, the numbers of students awarded membership by the HKAGE were 1 212, 1 409 and 1 340 from 2008-2011 respectively.  Detailed breakdown according to the nomination channels, level of study and domains of giftedness are given in Appendix 1.

(c) In 2008-2011, the HKAGE has offered 201 programmes for 11 021 students and 25 activities for 3 207 students.  In total, the HKAGE has offered 226 events for 14 228 students.

     From March 2007-2011, the HKAGE has offered 121 programmes for a total of 7  820 teachers.  Within the same period, the HKAGE has offered 88 deliverables for a total of 16 788 parents.

     The detailed breakdown of the different programmes and services provided for students, teachers and parents are given in Appendix 2.

(d) Since its inception, the work of HKAGE has been closely monitored by the EDB at a number of levels.  Since 2007, EDB has appointed a Board of ten Directors with two governance Committees, namely, Strategy and Planning Committee and Finance and Investment Committee, to monitor the strategic development, service quality and finance issues of the HKAGE.  Since 2009, Working Groups have also been set up for each Division in which a number of independent professionals have been invited to advise on the design and development of programmes/services.  Each Group meets on average around four times each year. A member of EDB staff sits in on each Working Group to understand and monitor the services provided and the direction of development of each Division of the HKAGE.

(e) The Financial figures of the HKAGE for the past three years are given in Appendix 3.

(f) The EDB has continuously evaluated the effectiveness, quality and quantity of the services provided by the HKAGE.  Through active participation in the Strategy and Planning Committee and the Finance and Investment Committee, EDB staff, together with appointed professionals and academics, provide the HKAGE with advice and oversight in respect of output quality.

     Most recently, at their Board meeting in November 2011, the Directors agreed to establish a Research Division of the HKAGE.  In its initial stages this Research Division will concentrate its efforts on the further development of an evidence-based Evaluation Framework that will operate across all Divisions.

     Seeing the ever increasing demand for services from primary school students and their parents, the HKAGE will provide at least 6 primary programmes in mathematics and humanities within 2011/12 school year (including courses on art appreciation, journalism, and a course on leadership and creativity especially for Little Astronauts prior to their departure to the USA).  It is planned to provide more primary programmes in the near future based on the experiences gained on nomination procedures, curriculum and pedagogy, as well as the evaluation of the programmes.  Currently the EDB has been running 10 web-based courses for students of P4íVS3 on astronomy, earth sciences, mathematics, humanities, and palaeontology.  EDB will continue to run enrichment programmes for students, including programmes for those aged 10 or under.

Ends/Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Issued at HKT 13:25

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