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LCQ2: Mechanism for holding regular working meetings established by the Education Bureau and the State Ministry of Education
     Following is a question by Hon Ip Kin-yuen and a reply by the Acting Secretary for Education, Mr Kevin Yeung, in the Legislative Council today (May 31):


     It has been reported that in January last year, the Education Bureau (EDB) and the State Ministry of Education (Ministry of Education) established a mechanism for holding regular working meetings (the meeting mechanism) and decided that two working meetings would be held each year. On the other hand, the Ministry of Education published early this year the Key Points of Work for 2017, which included "implementing on a full scale the various tasks assigned by the Central Government in respect of the work on the education in Hong Kong and Macao". However, Article 22 of the Basic Law stipulates that no department of the Central People’s Government and no province, autonomous region, or municipality directly under the Central Government may interfere in the affairs which the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) administers on its own; Article 136 provides that on the basis of the previous educational system, the HKSAR Government shall, on its own, formulate policies on the development and improvement of education. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) which side proposed the establishment of the meeting mechanism; of the details of the mechanism as well as the differences in nature and contents between this mechanism and previous exchange activities between the two sides; the reasons why the EDB has yet to announce the details of the mechanism despite the fact the mechanism has been established for more than one year; whether other bureaux or government departments have established similar mechanisms with relevant Mainland authorities;

(2) whether the Secretary for Education, when attending the regular working meeting held early this year, discussed with the officials of the Ministry of Education the Key Points of Work for 2017; if so, of the details; whether the EDB received instructions at the meeting or on other occasions to complement the relevant Mainland authorities in implementing the tasks mentioned in the key points of work; whether the Government will make it clear to the relevant Mainland authorities that the education policies of HKSAR are affairs which it administers on its own, and hence are not subject to interference by Mainland authorities as provided in Article 22 of the Basic Law; and

(3) of the respective dates on which various regular working meetings were held since January last year and the issues discussed at those meetings; whether it will make public the relevant documents for and the contents of the meetings, and report them to this Council on a regular basis; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The Education Bureau (EDB) has all along been committed to promoting the collaboration and ties in education between Hong Kong and the Mainland as well as other jurisdictions through various means, including bilateral or multilateral meetings, mutual visits, signing of memoranda of understanding, etc., with a view to providing more and wider opportunities for the progression and development of Hong Kong students, enhancing international recognition of our education system and academic qualifications, as well as consolidating Hong Kong's role as a regional education hub to facilitate exchange of talents.

     Hong Kong is an integral part of the nation and its development has always been closely tied to that of the country. As such, the Ministry of Education (MoE) is a very important partner of ours. It is necessary to enhance mutual understanding, in order to create more opportunities for collaboration. With the steadfast support of the MoE, we have embarked on in-depth and diverse collaboration in education with the Mainland and achieved good progress in recent years, benefitting both teachers and students in Hong Kong. On higher education, for example, the MoE has since 2012 implemented the Scheme for Admission of Hong Kong Students to Mainland Higher Education Institutions, under which Hong Kong students are exempted from taking the Mainland's Joint Entrance Examination and can apply for admission to participating higher education institutions in the Mainland by submitting their Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education examination results only, thereby relieving them from immense pressure. In addition, the Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Awards (Science and Technology) set up by the MoE has also been open to Hong Kong scholars. Over the years, the scheme has granted awards to Hong Kong scholars (as first authors) for more than 40 research projects, giving statewide recognition to their outstanding research efforts. Besides, first-class universities in Hong Kong and the Mainland are forging alliances, which help synergise and deepen co-operation in areas such as teaching, research and technology transfer, and student exchange, thereby raising the level and standard of regional co-operation. With the MoE's agreement given last year, SCAD Foundation (Hong Kong) Limited and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business (Hong Kong) are now allowed to admit Mainland students to designated locally accredited non-local degree programmes. This has further strengthened Hong Kong's position as a regional education hub.

     On basic education, in recent years, the MoE has opened up more opportunities for Hong Kong teachers and students to participate in various nationwide activities and competitions. This helps facilitate exchanges with first-rate teachers and students in the Mainland, and enables Hong Kong teachers and students to gain wider exposure and develop broader perspectives. In addition, to enhance exchange and cooperation on the development of basic education curriculum between the Mainland and Hong Kong, the 9th Mainland-Hong Kong Curriculum Exchange Meeting was resumed and held in Beijing in January 2016, and the 10th Meeting was conducted in Hong Kong in January 2017. Professional discussions and exchanges were made on different education matters during the meetings. Through these regular annual meetings, curriculum experts of the two places can study and learn from each other. Moreover, quite a number of Mainland institutions have worked with us to provide professional training for principals and teachers of kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, enriching their knowledge about pedagogy and curriculum leadership. The Sister School Scheme is also well-received. Currently, over 580 schools in Hong Kong have paired up with their counterparts in the Mainland as sister schools.

     Our integrated reply to the Hon Ip's question is as follows:

     The EDB and the MoE have conducted exchanges from time to time in recent years, including working meetings, to discuss different education issues and collaboration projects. To further enhance the communication channels, foster closer co-operation in education, and bring about benefits to our teachers and students, both parties agreed that with effect from January 2016, working meetings should be conducted twice a year. The said arrangement facilitates both parties to set aside time to meet periodically, follow up on the progress of various collaboration projects, and exchange views on education issues of mutual concern. In particular, the purpose and nature of the working meetings are no different from those that were conducted in the past.

     Three periodic working meetings have been conducted since January 2016, and they were held on January 28, 2016; August 18, 2016; and February 14, 2017 respectively. Before each meeting, the EDB would issue a press release on the date of meeting, the counterparts to be met with and the meeting arrangements, as well as the accompanying officials.

     Like those bilateral meetings conducted with the education authorities of other jurisdictions, our periodic working meetings with the MoE are also held behind closed doors. Out of respect for our counterparts, it is not appropriate for us to unilaterally publish the meeting papers or disclose the contents of the meetings in detail.

    To our understanding, at present, other bureaux and government departments also maintain communication with relevant Mainland authorities on issues of mutual concern through ways that are deemed suitable by both sides, including holding working meetings.

     The EDB and the MoE exchange views on education issues of mutual concern by conducting periodic working meetings, mutual visits, etc, and share experiences and opinions on the latest developments of education in Hong Kong and the Mainland. We would like to reiterate that the HKSAR Government will continue to formulate the development and policies of education on its own, in strict conformity with the Basic Law.

     Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Issued at HKT 14:45
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