LCQ22: Inviting secondary schools to arrange for broadcast live on campus the speech of a Mainland official
On the 16th of last month, the Chairman of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Basic Law Committee under the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress attended and delivered a speech at a Basic Law seminar in Hong Kong. It was reported that prior to the event, the Education Bureau (EDB) had written to various school sponsoring bodies, inviting them to arrange for the secondary schools under their sponsorship to broadcast live on campus the seminar for students to watch, and requesting the school sponsoring bodies to complete and return a reply slip. The Secretary for Education said in a radio programme in October this year that the reply slip had been prepared to facilitate the provision of technical support for the live broadcast, and it was not the case that the schools had to complete and return the reply slip and it was also not sure that the authorities would compile the relevant statistics. Moreover, some of the secondary schools which had arranged for the live broadcast had prepared worksheets for students who watched the seminar to fill out and return. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the persons who suggested to broadcast live the seminar on campus, to write to school sponsoring bodies and to ask them to complete and return a reply slip, and whether any of them were non-government individuals; the persons who decided to accept those suggestions, and the justifications and powers on which they based when they made those decisions; the decision making process concerned, and whether it can provide the relevant documents and records;
(2) whether the EDB had, before inviting school sponsoring bodies to arrange for a live broadcast of the seminar, consulted the principals and teachers of those secondary schools, parents and education experts to gauge their views on arranging for the live broadcast; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(3) whether the EDB had liaised with the various school sponsoring bodies before and after issuing the invitation letters; if so, of the details; whether the EDB can provide the relevant records and copies of the invitation letters;
(4) of the total numbers of invitation letters issued and reply slips received by the EDB; the number of school sponsoring bodies which indicated in the reply slips they returned that the schools under their sponsorship would arrange for the live broadcast of the seminar, and the number of schools involved; whether it knows the number and level of students arranged to watch the live broadcast by each of those schools;
(5) whether it knows the number of school sponsoring bodies which had not returned the reply slips but the schools under their sponsorship had arranged for the live broadcast of the seminar, and the number of schools involved; the number and level of students arranged to watch the live broadcast by each of those schools;
(6) of the respective numbers of schools which (i) requested for and (ii) obtained technical support provided by the EDB for broadcasting live the seminar;
(7) whether the EDB had requested the schools which broadcast live the seminar to distribute worksheets to their students, and whether the EDB had (i) issued guidelines on or (ii) examined the contents of the worksheets in advance; if so, of the details;
(8) whether the EDB has reviewed the effectiveness of the live broadcast in question; if so, of the outcome of and the criteria adopted for the review;
(9) whether the EDB has plans to regularise the arrangement for secondary schools to broadcast live the speeches delivered by Mainland and Hong Kong officials live on campus and extend it to all schools in the territory; and
(10) whether the EDB will include the worksheet related to the content of a live broadcast as one of the means of assessment for the Liberal Studies subject; if so, of the reasons for and the details of that?
My consolidated reply to the questions raised by the Hon Tanya Chan is as follows:
The Basic Law has been formulated to prescribe the system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in accordance with the Constitution of our country while taking into account the realistic circumstances of the HKSAR. It is a constitutional legal document promulgating the basis of the legislation in the HKSAR. The Basic Law is relevant to the daily lives of Hong Kong residents, hence it is the natural responsibility of school education to enable students to understand the Basic Law.
To support the work of school education, the Education Bureau (EDB) from time to time disseminates information of recommendable activities to the school sector for schools' information and consideration. We have not consulted principals, teachers, parents and education professionals prior to providing information of activities to schools, nor do we see the necessity of doing so. However, we do welcome views from stakeholders about our recommended activities.
Experts and celebrities were invited to discuss the Basic Law at the "Basic Law Seminar in Commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region" (the Seminar) organised by the Basic Law Promotion Steering Committee on November 16 of this year. Considering that contents of the Seminar could facilitate classroom learning and enhance the understanding of "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law among teachers and students, the EDB issued a letter to the school sponsoring bodies (SSBs) via the Hong Kong Association of Sponsoring Bodies of Schools (the Association) in October this year for their consideration in arranging teachers and students of their sponsored secondary schools to watch the live webcast of the Seminar. SSBs and schools can exercise their discretion on whether or not to make such viewing arrangements. The EDB has not asked the Association about the details of development subsequent to their issuing of the message to their member schools. Following the existing practice, we will not release the letter, which is a piece of communication between the EDB and the organisations concerned, to the open public.
As gathered from the replies, 16 SSBs, including that of government secondary schools would participate, and about 50 secondary schools would watch the live webcast. As a usual practice of the EDB, the reply slip attached with the letter issued to SSBs only sought the number of affiliated schools that would arrange the live webcast, serving as an estimate of the number of schools requiring technical support. The EDB did not require SSBs to provide the names of schools or the number of participating students before and after the live webcast. As the EDB had expressly indicated that SSBs did not necessarily need to reply to the EDB's letter and schools could decide whether or not to make arrangements for viewing the Seminar at their discretion, the above figures may not reflect the actual participation by schools and students. In sum, the EDB has neither collected statistics on how many schools and students ultimately watched the live webcast of the Seminar nor received any request from schools for technical support. The EDB also has not asked any schools about details of the live webcast. It is our customary practice to release information regarding recommendable activities to the school sector and this Seminar is only one of such activities. I have expressly indicated that we will not review the conduct of this activity and the EDB will continue to release information on meaningful activities to SSBs and schools.
Elements related to the Constitution and the Basic Law have been incorporated into the existing school curricula. The Seminar serves to provide schools with enriched learning materials. Teachers should make use of the learning materials in a professional manner. In connection with the Seminar, the EDB has not suggested or requested schools to disseminate worksheets related to the activity to students or to assign such worksheets for the assessment of Liberal Studies, or reviewed the contents of the worksheets. The EDB is pleased to see that some schools have on their own initiative designed school-based learning materials for students with the aim of enhancing their learning effectiveness. We believe that teachers would as usual make good use of the learning materials, in an objective and unbiased manner to guide students in acquiring correct understanding and knowledge of the Constitution and the Basic Law, as well as to cultivate in students a sense of national identity. We will continue to promote Basic Law education through the school curricula, student activities, professional development programmes for principals and teachers and cross-bureau collaboration with a view to enhancing students' understanding of the Basic Law.
Ends/Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:15
Issued at HKT 17:15