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Transcript of remarks by SED

     Following is a transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, at a media session after attending a radio programme today (November 17):

Reporter: ...drop in the number of secondary students? How serious is the problem and how you are going to deal with it...?

Secretary for Education: In terms of the drop of the S1 student population, it is not new, it has been happening for the last few years. Indeed we have managed to drop the 22 000 places, because of that, only eight schools during those few years are affected on a voluntary basis. That is the first point. The second point is, we will need to face another few years of, around three and a half years, another drop of around 11 000 (places). Good news will be after that, in the following few years, the population will go back up and the level will go back even higher than as at today. So we are talking about managing a transitional problem and that is why we would like (to have) the very focus and a basket of solutions to manage it. In the first place, we flexibly cut down in terms of the number of qualified places to start off the class and we actually make it very specific, from now on you will be able to have 76 students for four classes and 51 for three classes and 26 for two classes. You probably would imagine there will be smaller classes and this will provide a very good opportunity for more sorts of quality education type of devices and measures. During this period, the other challenge will be on the stability of teachers, because when the population is down, teachers will be worrying about how they are going to deal with it, will that affect their work arrangement, job security. Actually we also take the initiative to highlight that we are going to extend the retention period for the redundant teachers arrangement from one year to three (years). With the three-year window, you will have the more stabilised environment for teachers to slow down a little bit their loading (in order) to take more training or developmental classes and then replay. They are also provided (with more opportunities) to take up more development areas like career education for the students, including the training for the teachers. These are new measures that the schools and school sponsoring bodies can actually provide and to have the flexibility. It is not just a number to manage, actually we also manage the stability of the capacity of the school system as well as to manage the stable teacher population.

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

Ends/Saturday, November 17, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:56


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