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Transcript of remarks by Secretary for Education

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, at a media session on the setting up of the Committee on Free Kindergarten Education today (April 8):

     To implement 15 years of free education is a major education policy initiative of the current administration. Since assuming my responsibility last July, I have been trying very hard to maintain contacts with the kindergarten sector in order to understand their needs, their aspirations, issues and concerns. All of us strive to implement this policy initiative at the earliest possible date.

     Today I am very pleased to announce the setting up of the Committee on Free Kindergarten Education. The Committee will provide practicable and concrete proposals to the Government on how to implement free kindergarten education as well as optimisation of the education to the students. Including the Chairman, there will be 20 committee members altogether. They come from various stakeholder sectors including kindergarten education, namely school sponsoring bodies, principals, teacher, parents, academic, and other professionals, so as to make sure issues are being thoroughly and multiply addressed, discussed and worked out.

     I am very pleased today that Dr Moses Cheng Mo-chi, the Chairman of the Education Commission, has kindly accepted our invitation to be the Chairman of the Committee. Dr Cheng has long-standing involvement, well known in the community of his involvement in education matters in Hong Kong. He is passionate about education, well-versed in the developments of Hong Kong education, and extremely experienced. All members of the Committee are knowledgeable and competent in their respective fields of work, including education, particularly kindergarten education, teaching profession, other professionals like accounting, finance, human resources, law, etc. With them on board, the Committee will be able to draw on their collective wisdom and benefit from their various expertise. Under Dr Cheng's leadership, I expect the Committee to get to work immediately and provide, at the earliest possible date, practicable proposals to the Education Bureau on how to implement free kindergarten education.

     Owing to the diversity of services and disparity in the operation modes in the kindergarten sector, we expect the Committee to concurrently launch comprehensive and in-depth discussions on a series of issues that the sector is concerned about. These will include the vision, objective and mission of kindergarten education, the different operation and needs of whole-day versus half-day kindergarten modes of education, subvention modes, teacher-to-student ratio, teacher qualification and salary framework, monitoring and governance framework as well as home-school co-operation, etc. Therefore, we plan to set up several sub-committees under the Committee to deliberate the aforementioned issues and to provide suggestions and recommendations to the Committee. We will discuss with the Committee as soon as possible, to determine the composition of the sub-committees as well as their specific terms and duties.

     I expect the Committee to complete its work in two years' time and provide concrete and practicable suggestions and recommendations to the Education Bureau. Meanwhile, the Committee will also explore short- and medium-term measures that could be considered in order to address the immediate concerns and needs of the sector.

     The Government will strive to co-operate and support those recommendations after consideration with a view to really addressing the genuine needs and concerns of the sector.

     The importance of kindergarten education is beyond any doubt, and it has far-reaching impacts on children's future development. We all strive to implement the policy initiative of 15 years' free education at the earliest possible date. Thank you very much.

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

Ends/Monday, April 8, 2013
Issued at HKT 17:19


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