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LCQ15: Provision of resources to promote the use of information technology in schools

     Following is a question by Dr Hon Elizabeth Quat and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, in the Legislative Council today (November 20):


     Some members from the information technology (IT) and education sectors have relayed to me that the world has entered the digital era and various countries have experienced rapid developments in electronic teaching and learning (in particular wireless learning). They have also pointed out that although the Government has launched three IT in Education strategies, at present IT education in secondary and primary schools places emphasis only on teaching word processing software and Internet browsing skills, etc. rather than the latest IT knowledge. Moreover, they have also criticised the Government for the slow progress in comprehensive development of information network infrastructures in schools as well as updating IT teaching and learning tools, etc. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it has plans to provide the secondary and primary schools in Hong Kong with comprehensive and free Wi-Fi network coverage; if it has, of the details and the implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) whether it has plans to implement the policy of "one computer per student" in the secondary and primary schools in Hong Kong and encourage students to bring their own mobile devices for learning purpose in order to enhance the effectiveness of electronic learning; if it has, of the details and the implementation timetable; of the measures in place to provide subsidies to students in need so as to eliminate the obstacles faced by students of poor families in pursuing online learning, in order to ensure that they enjoy equal learning opportunities; if not, of the reasons for that;

(c) whether it has plans to allocate additional resources to help schools procure computers and wireless network equipment of the most advanced models, and to recycle outdated IT equipment; if it has, of the details and the implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that;

(d) whether it has plans to invite the IT sector to collaborate with it to have IT staff in place of teachers to take charge of the professional work of network equipment maintenance and management so that teachers can concentrate on their teaching work; if it has, of the details and the implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that;

(e) whether it has plans to provide regular training to teachers and schools' technical staff to ensure the effective implementation of electronic teaching and learning in schools; if it has, of the details and the implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that;

(f) with the advent of the era of the second-generation Internet, whether it has plans to reform the curricula of secondary and primary schools, and to cooperate with the IT and the publishing sectors in providing the corresponding technical support and developing teaching materials, so as to promote c-learning (i.e. with emphases on collaborative, contributory and creative learning) for guiding students in the process of learning to exchange among themselves, collaborate with and learn from one another, and work together to achieve the learning objectives of the curricula; if it has, of the details and the implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that; and

(g) whether it has plans to introduce programming courses using the most advanced computer languages into the curricula of all secondary and primary schools in Hong Kong in order to lay a foundation for nurturing IT talents; if it has, of the details and the implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that?



(a) In line with the global trend of harnessing technology to facilitate effective learning and teaching for a knowledge-based society, the Government is committed to the promotion of IT in education, and has invested over $9 billion dollars since the 1998/99 school year for the implementation of a wide range of policy initiatives and school support measures in this area, including the two phases of e-Textbook Market Development Scheme (EMADS). In the implementation of EMADS, both the partner schools participating in the try-out of e-textbooks as well as the developers consider that the existing IT infrastructure in schools should be enhanced to facilitate the flexible and effective adoption of e-textbooks in class. In the recently launched consultation document on "2014 Digital 21 Strategy", the provision of WiFi connection in schools is proposed, among others. In this connection, the Education Bureau (EDB) will initiate a proposal to create an effective digital learning environment for schools which will use e-textbooks actively in e-learning by upgrading their WiFi facilities.

(b) The basic concept of e-learning is that students can learn with the aid of computers, access to the Internet and e-textbooks or other e-learning resources. For learning in class, student-teacher interaction and student-student interaction should be the focus. Computers should be considered as supporting tools for application at "the right time and for the right task". As in the case of using printed textbooks, students do not need to use computers all the time in class. We, however, note that the decreasing prices of mobile computing devices, yet coupled with more enriched functions and content will make "Bring-Your-Own-Device" (BYOD) for learning become a trend. We will, on one hand, keep in view the development of e-learning in schools with a view to offering support, where appropriate. On the other hand, the Government has taken a two-pronged approach to assist needy students to learn at home through Internet. It includes the granting of subsidy to needy families to pay for Internet access charges and to acquire necessary computing equipment; and the implementation of the "Internet Learning Support Programme" to enable effective use of the subsidy as well as to provide free training and support services.

(c) & (d) EDB has been disbursing the "Composite IT Grant" (CITG) to all public sector schools annually. Under the principle of school-based management, schools can make use of the grant according to their own needs in upgrading and replacement of their IT facilities. For recycling of outdated IT equipment, schools can make use of the recycling scheme launched regularly by the Environmental Protection Department.

     Schools can also make use of the CITG to hire technical support personnel direct or to hire full/partial technical support services through outsourcing. EDB will review from time to time the need and arrangements in this area with a view to providing appropriate resources to support the development of IT in education.

(e) EDB provides regular training programmes for teachers and technical support personnel in the promotion of e-learning in schools. Some of the courses are co-organised with the IT industry. During the 2012/13 school year, we offered 390 programmes on e-learning, leadership and management and technical aspects with an attendance rate of about 6 500. The EDB will review the training programmes annually and revise the course content taking into account the needs of teachers and technical support personnel. Relevant information about the training programmes will be uploaded onto our website for their reference and on-line enrolment.

(f) IT has developed rapidly with wide application. It certainly benefits the learning and teaching process. The Government has pursued IT in education since 1998/1999 school year by phases with significant amount of investment in resources. In addition, in 2000, after extensive consultation, the Education Commission established that the aims of education should be to promote all-round development for all students, according to their attributes, and life-long learning. Since then, education and curriculum reforms are gradually introduced. At present, regarding curriculum provision, there are two ways of how students learn IT knowledge and skills and use them for learning:

(i) Using IT skill is one of the nine generic skills in the curriculum and is deployed in learning and teaching activities across different Key Learning Areas (KLAs) or subjects so as to enable students to conduct interactive/self¡Vdirected learning. To cope with the use of IT in learning and teaching, EDB has established the One-Stop Portal to provide learning and teaching resources of different KLAs for teachers' reference.

(ii) IT knowledge and concepts are included in the subject General Studies and the Computer Awareness Programme at primary levels, as well as computer subjects (including Computer Literacy at junior secondary level, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at senior secondary level) in the Technology Education KLA to nurture student with IT knowledge, skill and attitude. There is flexibility in the learning elements so that teachers can introduce the latest technologies in their teaching, such as Internet and relevant topics so as to arouse students' interest. In 2012, the TEKLA curriculum at junior secondary level is enriched, including the updating and enriching of learning elements under "Information and Communication Technology".

     On the other hand, in order to facilitate the use of IT in teaching and learning in school, encourage self-directed and life-long learning for students, as well as to cooperate with the IT sector and the publishers to devise related technical support and learning and teaching materials, the EDB launched a three-year "Pilot Scheme on e-Learning in Schools" in 2010. Through collaborative partnership with other sectors including tertiary institutes, IT sector, publishers and other services providers, the participating schools could develop e-learning resources to cater for the needs of schools, teachers and students on commercially viable business models. Likewise, EDB has also launched EMADS since 2012, aiming to facilitate and encourage the participation of potential and aspiring e-textbook developers to develop a diverse range of e-textbooks in line with our local curricula, with a view to providing an alternative to printed textbooks as well as gearing up a new, healthy, rich and sustainable e-textbook market. We expect that the first batch of e-textbooks developed under the EMADS will be available in the market for schools to use in the 2014/15 school year.

(g) At present, programming is introduced in primary and secondary schools through relevant computer subjects to develop students' logical thinking skills. It enables students to apply IT to solve problems and prepares them for further studies or future career.

(i) At primary level, EDB has developed eight modules of Computer Awareness Programme, including basic programming so as to enable students to grasp the basic programming skills.

(ii) At secondary level, schools teach programming under the TEKLA at junior secondary level to enable students to learn programming and problem solving skills. Students can choose to study Information and Communication Technology as an elective subject at senior secondary level to have an in-depth study of programming, including mobile applications design.

     In addition, schools may strengthen and develop students' logical thinking and problem solving skills through learning and teaching in mathematics, science and other learning areas. EDB has always been keen to cultivate students' interest in programming. We have worked with professional organisations to organise the Hong Kong Olympiad in Informatics for students annually.

Ends/Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:34


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