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LCQ20: Overseas duty visits conducted by the Secretary for Education

     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Kwok-hung and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, in the Legislative Council today (January 6):


     Some members of the public have queried the commitment of the Secretary for Education (the Secretary) to his duties. For instance, when the question of whether the Territory-wide System Assessment should be abolished or maintained is under heated debate in the community, the Secretary did not attend the public hearing on the aforesaid topic held by the Panel on Education of this Council on November 29 last year on grounds of leave. Furthermore, the Secretary has been alleged of frequently conducting overseas duty visits which are unrelated to his duties. Regarding the details of the overseas duty visits conducted so far by the Secretary since the beginning of this financial year, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of (i) the date, (ii) the number of days, (iii) the destination, (iv) the main itinerary and (v) the purpose of each overseas duty visit;

(2) regarding each of such overseas duty visits, of (i) the number of accompanying personnel from the Education Bureau and their ranks, (ii) the number of other accompanying government personnel and their ranks, and (iii) the number of accompanying non-government personnel and the capacities in which they accompanied the visit;

(3) regarding each of such overseas duty visits, of (i) the class of hotel accommodation and the expense incurred, (ii) the mode and class of transport (e.g. aircraft, train and ship) as well as the expense incurred and (iii) other expenses and the total expense incurred;

(4) of the flight mileage awards earned by the Secretary in each overseas duty visit, with a breakdown of such flight mileage awards by whether they have been allocated for personal use;

(5) whether it has assessed the effectiveness of each overseas duty visit in helping to resolve the existing education problems in Hong Kong; if it has, of the details; and

(6) given that when leading a delegation from the education sector to Ningbo of Zhejiang province for exchange activities on July 31, 2014, the Secretary attended the Ningbo-Hong Kong Economic Co-operation Forum 2014 co-hosted by the local government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, of the purpose of the Secretary's attendance at the forum, as well as the correlation between the Secretary's attendance at the forum and the educational affairs of Hong Kong?



(1) to (3) Details of duty visits outside Hong Kong made by the Secretary for Education (SED) from April 1 to December 31, 2015 are tabulated in the Annex.

(4) The SED has never used flight mileage awards earned from his duty visits for his private purposes since assumption of office.

(5) Duty visits outside Hong Kong by the SED and his entourage are in strict compliance with the relevant Government requirements and have delivered results. Through in-depth exchanges with the education officers, academics and education sector of the places visited, we have gained more thorough understanding of their good practices and valuable experiences, which have served as a useful source of reference for us to formulate major education policies, such as the 15-year free education, vocational education and e-learning, in recent years. Furthermore, the SED has also showcased internationally Hong Kong's achievements in education, broadened and strengthened ties and co-operation with these places, and consolidated Hong Kong's role as a regional education hub to facilitate exchange of talents. The SED is invited from time to time to attend international education forums and seminars held in various countries/places to exchange views on education policy, discuss the future developments in education policy/teaching profession, and explore bilateral co-operation opportunities with education officials as well as educators from around the world. In almost all his duty visits outside Hong Kong, the SED has had exchanges with and listened to the views of students from Hong Kong. In addition, the rapid development of our country in various areas such as its economy and technology in recent years together with the implementation of the "Belt and Road" initiative have presented new and unprecedented opportunities for Hong Kong. Through duty visits to and exchanges with the Mainland, the SED has enhanced education co-operation and strengthened the ties between the two places, thereby providing more and wider opportunities for progression and development for Hong Kong students.

(6) The main purpose of SED's duty visit to Ningbo on July 31, 2014 is to attend the Ningbo-Hong Kong Education Co-operation Conference and witness the signing of education co-operation documents by higher education and vocational education institutions of the two places. The conference was part of the annual Ningbo-Hong Kong Economic Co-operation Forum, which took place alternately in Ningbo and Hong Kong from 2006. As the highest-ranking government official in the delegation, the SED represented the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to officiate and deliver a speech at the opening ceremony of the Ningbo-Hong Kong Economic Co-operation Forum.

Ends/Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:52


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