LCQ2: Non-local courses offered by Direct Subsidy Scheme secondary schools

     Following is a question by the Hon Chu Kwok-keung and a reply by the Secretary for Education, Dr Choi Yuk-lin, in the Legislative Council today (July 6):
     Regarding the non-local courses offered by Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) secondary schools, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the total number of secondary school students who are local students and are currently taking such courses, and the percentage of such number in the total number of secondary school students across the territory;
(2) of the number of DSS secondary schools across the territory currently offering such courses; the total number of such courses and, among them, the number of those which do not offer the subjects of Chinese Language and Citizenship and Social Development (CS); and
(3) whether the authorities will consider requiring all such courses to offer the subjects of Chinese Language and CS so that local students taking those courses can receive a certain degree of Chinese and civic education, and formulating the criteria for the relevant teaching contents; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
     The Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) introduced in 1991 aims to inject more flexibility and variety into the school system in Hong Kong and give parents more choices. As DSS schools receive recurrent subsidies from the Government, their governance, operation, curriculum design, etc, are subject to the requirements as set out by the Government. In parallel, DSS schools enjoy greater flexibility in certain areas such as deployment of resources, curriculum design and student admission.
     The consolidated reply to the question raised by the Hon Chu Kwok-keung is as follows:
(1) Currently, there are 80 DSS schools in Hong Kong (including 59 secondary schools and 21 primary schools). They are operated as local schools offering education services mainly targeting local students. In all DSS schools, Primary 1 to Secondary 4 levels offer only local curriculum, whereas a small stream of non-local curriculum at Secondary 5 and Secondary 6 levels is offered in parallel with the local curriculum for students in 17 DSS secondary schools as an alternative choice other than the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) Examination programme to create multiple pathways for further studies. According to the statistics as at September in the 2021/22 school year, there were 325 927 secondary students in Hong Kong. Among them, a total of 1 125 students took the non-local curriculum at Secondary 5 and Secondary 6 levels in DSS secondary schools, accounting for 0.35 per cent of the total number of secondary students in Hong Kong.
(2) and (3) In line with the current language education policy, to enhance students' biliterate and trilingual competence, all DSS schools' students, regardless of nationality, are required to study Chinese Language, which should be one of the foundation subjects that are compulsory throughout the six years of secondary curriculum. All DSS schools offering both local and non-local curricula should offer Chinese Language as a core language subject for students taking the non-local curriculum. Some schools provide school-based Chinese Language programmes based on the needs of students. Nonetheless, the total number of lesson hours of the school-based programmes should be comparable to that specified for the Chinese Language subject in the local or non-local curriculum. In addition, the schools should ensure that contents of the Chinese language subject cover Chinese literature, literary classics, culture, moral and values.
     As for the senior secondary subject Citizenship and Social Development (CS), it is one of the core subjects in the HKDSE Examination programme. Generally speaking, DSS schools will arrange for students to study the HKDSE programme starting from Secondary 4 to enable them to explore and develop their interests in the curriculum (including CS). Therefore, students studying non-local curriculum in DSS schools should study CS in Secondary 4. Furthermore, topics about Hong Kong, our country and the contemporary world covered by CS have all along been incorporated into the curriculum at different key stages at primary and secondary levels, such as General Studies at the primary level, Life and Society/the standalone module on "Constitution and the Basic Law" and Chinese History at the junior secondary level, etc.
     Under the current school curriculum, students of local schools, including those studying non-local curriculum in DSS schools, have been receiving education in a learning atmosphere conducive to the fostering of a sense of belonging towards the country, as well as positive values and attitudes starting from Primary education. All along, the Education Bureau (EDB) has been adopting a "multi-pronged and co-ordinated" approach to implement national education and national security education in order to nurture in students an affection for the country, strengthen their sense of national identity and promote civic education. By adopting a diversified approach, all public sector schools and DSS schools offering both local and non-local curriculum have created a conducive atmosphere in schools to help students understand the history, culture and conditions of China and the developments of the contemporary world through life-wide learning activities inside and outside classroom. Schools will arrange learning activities inside and outside classroom and take a wide range of measures, such as class teacher periods, moral education and ethics studies to promote civic education and national education according to students' needs and school contexts. We understand that many DSS schools offering non-local curriculum have made use of museums and cultural facilities and activities to facilitate the study of history and cultivation of students' interest in artefact appreciation; organised diversified liaison and exchange activities such as establishing sister school pairs with Mainland schools and arranging exchange visits to provide opportunities for students to gain first-hand experience of the latest development of Chinese culture; actively encouraged students to participate in the territory-wide student activities organised by the EDB such as the territory-wide inter-school Basic Law competition and the National Security Education Day Online Quiz Competition, etc; as well as arranged relevant learning activities such as national flag raising ceremony, delivery of speech under the national flag, talks, film appreciation and visits on dates of significant historical events. Mainland study tour constitutes a crucial part of the CS subject. We understand that many schools have already made plans for students to participate in Mainland study tours, subject to the development of the epidemic situation and the resumption of quarantine-free travel with the Mainland, so as to enable students to have in-situ experience of the culture developed in the long history of our country, and to deepen their understanding of the country's current situation and vision for development. The learning outcomes achieved through these diversified measures, which are not confined to students taking the CS subject, in promoting the understanding of national development, cultural heritage and a sense of national identity, will be much better than just learning the subject in classroom.
     Generally speaking, regardless of students taking the local or non-local curriculum, schools have endeavoured to promote civic education at all fronts through different means, and the efforts are not limited to the study of relevant subjects.
     The teaching contents and requirements of Chinese Language and CS have been set out in detail in the relevant curriculum guides, which are Chinese Language Education Key Learning Area Curriculum Guide (Primary 1 to Secondary 6) and Citizenship and Social Development Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4 to 6), announced by the Curriculum Development Council for schools' reference and use.
     Thank you President.

Ends/Wednesday, July 6, 2022
Issued at HKT 16:55