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Transcript of remarks by SED (with photo)

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, at a media session after receiving the report of the Committee on Free Kindergarten Education today (May 28):

Secretary for Education: Today is a very important milestone for the development of kindergarten education in Hong Kong. Following two years of efforts made by the Committee on Free Kindergarten Education, I am pleased to receive its report from the Committee Chairman, Dr Moses Cheng, and I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to some 80 members of the Committee and its five Sub-committees for their whole-hearted contributions and invaluable personal time and expertise, and their proposal to the Education Bureau which will be conducive to the long-term development and betterment of kindergarten education in Hong Kong.

     As I said two years ago when the Committee was first established, there is a Chinese saying that the behaviour of one at the age of 80 can indeed be traced back to the early days of the age of 3. Quality kindergarten education is of paramount importance to the future learning and development of our students. Thus the objective of the new policy is not just about providing additional resources but making a blueprint to improve the quality of kindergarten education in Hong Kong, for Hong Kong in the long run.

     The scope of the Committee's report is very extensive. After taking into consideration views from various stakeholders, including the kindergarten sector, school sponsoring bodies, teacher education institutions, principals, teachers and parents and others, the Committee has put forward a number of recommendations in different areas, such as improving the teacher-student ratio, enhancing the remuneration for teachers, creating a career ladder for their development and advancement, and increasing the provision of kindergarten premises, just to name a few.

     The Education Bureau will study carefully all the recommendations in the report, and will go on to collect and take into consideration further views from the community. We will also map out appropriate policies and concrete measures, and reckon the resources required. In this process, we must take into account all relevant factors, including the Government's availability of resources, parents' choice and affordability, the kindergarten sector's sustainability and quality development. We hope to come up with a balanced package of measures right after all those views are studied by the Government.

     Hong Kong has been ranked high in the league table on education globally. Indeed, a dedicated, professional teaching force has been our key to success. I would like to take this opportunity once again wholeheartedly to thank our kindergarten teachers, may they be half-day, full-day or extended full-day, once again for their dedicated services and contributions in the last few years, laying a very good foundation for us to help realise our dream of further quality improvement and advancement of kindergarten education in Hong Kong in the near future. Thank you very much.

Reporter: How long will it take the Government to study the report and when will you be able to ...?

Secretary for Education: If you look at the schedule, I am so glad and so pleased that at this moment of time I have received the report, and then I understand it is going to take a couple of months and then for further consultation and elaboration. I need to thank again Moses and the Committee. They are going to spend a lot of time trying to elaborate on all the details and rationale and all those backgrounds of those recommendations to the community and our various groups. After this process is done, we will be able, from the Government's standpoint, to gauge further views from both the recommendations as well as from the various stakeholder groups. At this point of time, I will not be able to give you a designated schedule, for a couple of reasons. One, what exactly is the final sort of package that we are aiming at? And do we have available resources for that purpose? Not only that, if we are going to proceed with all the quality improvement and professional advancement of teachers and so on, then they need time to make it available and make it happen. And not only that, if you look at the admission procedure, it is going to take six, nine, even 12 months' time for kindergartens to start admitting, enrolment and so on. So it will be a bit difficult to exactly say when will that be. But I can assure you we will take a very, very critical look at everything and we understand the importance of the sense of urgency of this subject.

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

Ends/Thursday, May 28, 2015
Issued at HKT 16:39


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