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Transcript of remarks by SED

     Following is a transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, at a media session on the E-Textbook Market Development Scheme this afternoon (May 7):

Reporter: How will electronic books help tackle the problem that the education sector is facing......?

Secretary for Education: I think we are all aware of the fact that, during the last few years, there was a monopoly out there in the market and it has proved very difficult for us to break it. So during the last year, we have been thinking of ways of addressing this particular problem. Towards the end of last year, we appointed a working group to look specifically into this particular area and they have made a number of recommendations. One of the recommendations that we are now putting into effect, we are implementing, is the proposal to develop electronic textbooks. It will be a new market and we will be introducing new players into this particular market. We will be offering them various facilities in order to break this particular monopoly. Because it is a new scheme, it will enable us to introduce more control in this particular aspect. The rules of the game will be changed. We will insist on two main considerations. First, of course, is the quality of the electronic textbooks.  Secondly, it would be the pricing consideration. We will be having a handle on both matters, so that we will be able to exercise our influence over both.

Reporter: After the announcement of the debundling scheme, some of the schools have said they will offset the extra cost of teaching materials by charging more fees to the parents. What is the Government going to do to stop being as expensive and even more expensive for parents in the long run?

Secretary for Education: I just can't understand why certain schools are talking about cutting expenses in terms of not employing teachers, in order to deflate the additional cost of buying these teaching materials. Because I have the opportunity of asking about this from the publishers and they reassure me that whatever items for debundling, they are putting a price on individual items, so there is no compulsion on the part of the school to purchase it on the set menu basis, i.e., to buy everything on block. They can choose their own item, and there will be a price on that particular item. So there is no need for them to talk about buying for the whole class, or buying for six years in the middle school. We will wait and see the actual price determined by the publishers. That will become apparent in the next few days.

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

Ends/Monday, May 7, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:37


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