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LCQ9: Textbook review

     Following is a question by the Hon Mrs Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, in the Legislative Council today (November 7):


     In its letter dated June 5, 2012 to the Panel on Education of this Council, the Education Bureau pointed out that the existing textbook vetting criteria had been optimised to facilitate the reuse of textbooks among students and encourage them to use other means to finish assignments and assessment tasks.  The relevant sub-committee of the Curriculum Development Council also endorsed a revised set of textbook vetting criteria, which has been in force since July 2012.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the details of the revisions made to textbook vetting criteria;

(b) of the specific measures to put into practice the reuse of textbooks; and

(c) whether it has assessed the effectiveness of revising textbook vetting criteria in lowering textbook prices?



(a) and (c)  The Education Bureau (EDB) accords much attention to the textbook review system, and keeps it up to date by refining the review guidelines and criteria in a timely manner.  At the same time, we strive to promote textbook recycling and create room for reducing textbook prices through various measures.

     The EDB has introduced a series of measures in response to the report published by the Working Group on Development of Textbooks and E-learning Resources in October 2009.  To promote textbook recycling, an additional requirement that the design should facilitate the reuse of textbooks has been included in the Guiding Principles for Quality Printed Textbooks revised in 2012.  To meet this requirement for example, textbooks should appropriately indicate the sources of figures and statistics, etc. so as to prevent the use of outdated information by students.  Materials designed to be torn off pages or for one-off use (e.g. stickers that can be used only once) should be avoided as far as possible so as to facilitate the reuse of textbooks.  Apart from providing the above guiding principles for reference by textbook writers and publishers, the EDB has also revised the textbook review criteria by adding new items, including comprehensiveness of textbook content, suitability for independent use, capacity to cater for the learning needs of students of different abilities, and conduciveness of textbook layouts and designs to textbook recycling.  These criteria aim to encourage the recycling of textbooks, reduce unnecessary wastage and alleviate the financial burden on parents.  At the joint meeting with the Textbook Committee of the EDB in March 2012, the Anglo-Chinese Textbook Publishers Organisation and the Hong Kong Educational Publishers Association were informed of the above changes, and relevant information has also been uploaded onto the EDB's website for reference by schools, publishers and the general public.

     Since textbook prices have an impact on people's livelihood, the EDB has taken a number of measures to provide room for publishers to reduce textbook prices, including improvement of the textbook review system and implementation of the Policy of Debundling Textbooks and Teaching/Learning Materials for Pricing.  However, the pricing of textbooks is a commercial decision of publishers, which is subject to a number of factors such as costs, inflation and demand and supply.  The EDB will continue to closely monitor textbook prices and take follow-up actions in a timely manner.

(b)  Support from schools and parents is a decisive factor in the success of textbook recycling programmes.  The EDB issues circular memoranda and conducts seminars from time to time to encourage schools to launch textbook recycling programmes, such as textbook donations and sale of used textbooks, purchase of reference books and story books on loan to students, as well as textbook and story book recycling programmes organised with the support of Parent-Teacher Associations.  According to the findings of the Textbook Expenditure Survey released by the Consumer Council in September 2012, compared with last year, the total number of textbooks used in primary schools has reduced as a result of initiatives taken by schools to recycle textbooks, including the implementation of textbook recycling/loaning programmes, use of e-textbooks, development of school-based teaching materials, as well as reduction of the number of required supplementary and examination-oriented exercise books.  This shows the efforts made by schools in support of the EDB's policy.  Besides, the EDB is compiling the second edition of A Parental Guide to Textbook Matters, which will encourage co-operation between parents and schools in textbook recycling by illustrating the benefits of reusing textbooks.  In addition, the EDB will conduct school visits during this school year to understand how textbook recycling is being implemented in schools and to collect good practices for dissemination of good practices.  

Ends/Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Issued at HKT 12:30


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