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SED concludes visit to Europe (with photos)

     The Secretary for Education (SED), Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, today (May 23, Helsinki time) concluded his duty visit to Belgium and Finland.
     This morning Mr Ng visited Sakarinmäki School in Helsinki, which has about 350 pupils aged from 7 to 16 and another 100 young children at its day care centre. He toured the school facilities and looked closely at its design, which caters for the needs of students from multiple age groups.
     He also visited Viikki Teacher Training School, which is one of two teacher training schools at the University of Helsinki and is one of Finland's largest schools. The school has about 940 students ranging from pre-school to primary and lower secondary to upper secondary levels. In addition to 110 teachers, there are some 250 student teachers. Mr Ng took the opportunity to look at how school education and teacher education can be combined to benefit from each other.   
     The Finnish education system is one of the best in Europe. Children can receive one-year of free pre-primary education at the age of six and about 90 per cent of 6-year-olds participate.
     In respect of basic education, free and compulsory education is provided for all children aged between 7 and 16. Those who have successfully completed the compulsory education are eligible for general or vocational upper secondary education of their own choice. The tuition remains free.
     Vocational education enjoys a relatively high reputation in Finland, with 90 per cent of respondents in a 2011 study stating that vocational education and training has a positive image. On average, about half of students opt for general upper secondary schools, while the other half choose vocational schools.
     "There is indeed good experience around the world that Hong Kong can learn from. The best education system will be one being constantly renewed and improved on its own merits to effectively meet students' needs in the 21st century," Mr Ng said.
     "In Hong Kong, we share the vision of some leading education systems around the world. As stated in the Policy Address and the Budget, we recognise the importance of three-year free kindergarten education, information technology in education as well as early life planning for all secondary students, and vocational education as an equally good option in nurturing our younger generation."
     Mr Ng said that the Education Bureau would take the initiative to work with all key stakeholders, including parents and members of relevant sectors, to effect genuine partnership and collective wisdom in providing effective education for Hong Kong.
     Accompanying the SED are the Deputy Secretary for Education, Dr Catherine K K Chan; Administrative Assistant to the SED, Mr Kenneth Cheng; and member of the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research, Professor Chan Shui-duen. They will return to Hong Kong tomorrow.

Ends/Friday, May 23, 2014
Issued at HKT 18:30


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