Hong Kong Education Policy Update

The Financial Secretary delivered the Speech on the 2019-20 Budget earlier today at the Legislative Council Meeting.

The current term of the Government attaches great importance to education, and devotes substantial resources to improve education. The new resources include the $3.6 billion package of new initiatives of quality education introduced at the beginning of the term, and another series of new measures involving an expenditure of $4.7 billion as announced in the 2018 Policy Address. The total expenditure on education in 2019-20 will significantly increase by 12.2% to $124 billion, accounting for 20.4 % of the total government expenditure. Of the total, the recurrent education expenditure will increase by 5.9% to $90.6 billion, accounting for 20.5 % of the total government recurrent expenditure. Education expenditures continue to take up the largest share in the government expenditure among all policy areas. The recurrent expenditure on education has, over ten years (i.e. from 2010-11 to 2019-20 financial year), increased by 77% with an average growth rate of 6.6% per annum. This reflects the Government’s long-term commitment to investment in education.

We will fully implement the various new initiatives announced in the Policy Address, the 2019-20 Budget and those being planned by the Education Bureau. They include –

Kindergarten Education
• enhancing the subsidy for kindergartens joining the new kindergarten education scheme and admitting non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students by providing tiered subsidies for these kindergartens (full-year impact: additional provision of $40 million)
Primary, Secondary and Special Education

• implementing the all-graduate teaching force policy in public sector primary and secondary schools (full-year impact: additional provision of $1.499 billion)

• reserving $1 billion for over 600 schools that were built according to past standards, to carry out minor internal works for more flexible use of space within existing premises, based on the experience gained from the improvement projects of matchbox-style school premises

• providing a Life-wide Learning Grant for public sector schools’ enhancement of life-wide learning (full-year impact: $904 million)

• enhancing the effectiveness of the integrated education policy and support measures for students with special educational needs (SEN). The measures include restructuring various funding programmes and extending the Learning Support Grant to all public sector ordinary schools in Hong Kong, increasing the grant rate of tier-3 support significantly, upgrading the rank of SEN Coordinator to a promotion rank in public sector ordinary schools with larger number of SEN students, extending further the Enhanced School-based Educational Psychology Service, and creating school-based speech therapist posts in public sector ordinary primary and secondary schools in three years. (full-year impact: additional provision of $800 million)

• implementing a “One Executive Officer for Each School” Policy, to strengthen the administrative support for public sector schools, Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) schools and their management committees (full-year impact: additional provision of $569 million)

• counting the following posts in the calculation of the number of promotion posts: the regular teaching posts converted from the Senior Secondary Curriculum Support Grant and the Career and Life Planning Grant (full-year impact: $164 million)

• providing non-recurrent grants for supporting NCS students to use Chinese in learning Chinese History as an independent compulsory subject at the junior secondary level (total commitment: $30 million)

• enhancing the Understanding Adolescent Project in primary schools, by lowering the group size of programmes and increasing sessions for group activities and parent education (full-year impact: additional provision of $25 million)

• providing additional resources under a 3-tiered structure to public sector ordinary schools to cater for NCS students with SEN (full-year impact: $22 million)

• continuing to discuss with the sector on how to improve the manpower at the middle management level and rationalise the salaries for school heads and deputy heads in public sector primary schools, with a view to raising the management quality of primary schools as well as retaining and attracting talents to further enhance education quality. Based on the discussion outcome, the Government will allocate resources appropriately

Post-secondary and Vocational and Professional Education
• injecting $20 billion into the Research Endowment Fund for providing more research funding to the post-secondary sector

• supporting the Research Grants Council in introducing three new fellowship schemes for outstanding academics, to encourage more academics to concentrate on research (full-year impact: $185 million)

• reserving $3 billion for launching the Research Matching Grant Scheme. That would encourage the higher education sector to diversify funding sources, and the society in cultivating a philanthropic culture

• reserving $16 billion for the University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded universities to construct or renovate their campus facilities, including the acquisition of necessary research equipment

• from the 2019/20 to 2021/22 school years, providing tuition fee subsidies to students admitted to designated professional part-time programmes offered by the Vocational Training Council (VTC) (total commitment increased from $234 million to $434 million)

• extending the Study Subsidy Scheme for Designated Professions / Sectors to cover self-financing sub-degree programmes, subsidising 2 000 students per cohort (full-year impact: additional provision of $124 million)

• regularising the Pilot Training and Support Scheme with the quota increased to 1 200 per cohort (full-year impact: additional provision of $100 million)

• running a new pilot incentive scheme to employers who participate in the workplace assessment from the 2019/20 to 2021/22 academic year (total commitment: $108 million)

• regularising the Mainland University Study Subsidy Scheme, providing subsidy to Hong Kong students who pursue undergraduate studies in a designated Mainland institution (full-year impact: $73 million)

• regularising the Hong Kong Scholarship for Excellence Scheme from the 2019/20 academic year to support outstanding students to study at renowned universities outside Hong Kong (full-year impact: $64 million)

• providing a one-off support grant of $2,500 to each financially needy student (total commitment: $890 million)

• providing the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority with a non-recurrent grant for four cohorts to sustain its operation from 2018/2019 to 2021/2022 (total commitment: $361 million)

• paying the examination fees for school candidates sitting for the 2020 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (total commitment: $160 million)

• engaging tertiary institutions to provide school-based professional support services for schools (including kindergartens) that admit NCS students in the three school years from 2019/20 to 2021/22 (total commitment: $45 million)

• providing additional resources to Federations of Parent-Teacher Associations and Parent-Teacher Associations of schools, to organise more community-based and school-based parent education programmes or activities (full-year impact: additional provision of $26 million)