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SED's speaking notes on education policy areas tabled at LegCo Finance Committee special meeting

     Following is the English translation of the speaking notes on education policy areas of the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, tabled at the Finance Committee special meeting in the Legislative Council today (April 1):

Mr Chairman,

     The Government is determined to invest in education. The estimated total expenditure on education for 2015-16 amounts to $79.3 billion, which is $5.2 billion or 7 per cent higher than the 2014-15 revised estimate. Of this total, 90 per cent or $71.4 billion is recurrent expenditure, exceeding $70 billion for the first time and accounting for more than one-fifth of the total recurrent government expenditure and taking up the largest share among all policy areas. It represents an increase of $3.2 billion or 4.7 per cent over the 2014-15 revised estimate of recurrent expenditure.

     Since the inauguration of the current-term Government, the recurrent expenditure on education has increased from $60.4 billion in 2012-13 to $71.4 billion in 2015-16, representing a cumulative increase of 18 per cent. As regards the resources on students, the student unit cost of aided primary schools has increased by about 20 per cent from $44,451 to $52,850 in 2015-16, while the corresponding figure for aided secondary schools has increased by about 35 per cent from $49,246 to $66,440.

     Since the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997, the overall student population has dropped by over 20 per cent. This notwithstanding, the resources that the Government puts into education have increased rather than decreased over the years, with a cumulative increase of over 90 per cent in recurrent education expenditure. We will continue to implement various measures conducive to the development of schools, teachers and students.

     More than 10 initiatives had been introduced in the Policy Address of last year. This year, the Policy Address also announced several new measures on education. In the 2015-16 Budget, resources are provided to take forward the new measures announced in this year's Policy Address and continue with the implementation of the measures and programmes set out last year.

     These measures and programmes include:

(1) enhancing the voucher value under the Pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme;

(2) progressively increasing the ratio of graduate teacher posts in public sector primary schools;

(3) further strengthening the Mainland exchange programmes for primary and secondary students;

(4) progressively increasing senior year undergraduate places of University Grants Committee-funded institutions;

(5) implementing the Hong Kong Scholarship for Excellence Scheme;

(6) subsidising students to pursue designated self-financing undergraduate programmes on a pilot basis;

(7) launching the Fourth Strategy on Information Technology in Education;

(8) implementing the pilot programme on promoting Hong Kong-Mainland sister school exchanges; and

(9) strengthening support for needy students, students with special educational needs and non-Chinese speaking students; augmenting life planning and vocational education; and promoting the Qualifications Framework.

     Mr Chairman, we have already provided detailed information and explanations on the above and other measures when giving our written replies to over 600 questions asked by Members during the exercise of the Special Meeting of the Finance Committee. I must convey my special thanks here to all my colleagues for their relentless arduous work over the past few weeks. Today, my colleagues and I will be happy to answer further questions from Members.

Ends/Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Issued at HKT 15:09


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