CE to present HK$5b ed­u­ca­tion plan

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By WILLA WU in Hong Kong willa@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Car­rie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Mon­day said she would un­veil de­tailed plans to raise re­cur­rent ed­u­ca­tion spend­ing dur­ing a Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil meet­ing on Wed­nes­day. She called for sup­port for the plan from law­mak­ers, say­ing she wants to ad­dress such is­sues in the next cou­ple of months.

Dur­ing her elec­tion cam­paign Lam said ed­u­ca­tion was one of the most press­ing is­sues she was go­ing to tackle if elected.

“I am the one most re­spon­si­ble for lead­ing Hong Kong to a glo­ri­ous fu­ture in the next five years. It is a long-term and an ar­du­ous task,” Lam told re­porters on Mon­day, her first day in of­fice.

She re­it­er­ated her elec­tion prom­ise to in­crease re­cur­rent spend­ing on the city’s ed­u­ca­tion by HK$5 bil­lion an­nu­ally. Lam said she would table a pro­posal for the Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil to ex­am­ine on Tues­day. Af­ter ExCo ap­proval, Lam said she would dis­cuss de­tails of the plan at Wed­nes­day’s LegCo meet­ing.

She em­pha­sized that the plan would not be to spend the HK$5 bil­lion at once.

The plan pri­or­i­tized ar­eas need­ing ur­gent sup­port such as pro­grams for the com­ing se­mes­ter, which starts in Septem­ber. Pri­or­i­tized items had re­ceived broad sup­port in dis­cus­sions with dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal par­ties and ed­u­ca­tion stake­hold­ers in the past three months.

“I am cau­tiously op­ti­mistic that we should be able to get this through be­fore the sum­mer re­cess at the LegCo. So when it comes the 2017-18 school year, new re­sources will be in­jected into the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem,” Lam noted.

The LegCo sum­mer re­cess starts in late July and lasts three months.

Law­maker Starry Lee Waik­ing said it was “highly pos­si­ble” that the plan would be ap­proved be­fore the break.

Lee is chair­woman of the city’s big­gest po­lit­i­cal party in terms of LegCo seats — the Demo­cratic Al­liance for the Bet­ter­ment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB). She has also sug­gested the new CE first deal with is­sues Hong Kong peo­ple care about the most — such as hous­ing, health and eco­nomic devel­op­ment — to win peo­ple’s trust.

More­over, the city’s new chief also vowed to re­view the cur­rent Ba­sic Com­pe­tence As­sess­ment (BCA) test for Pri­mary 3 pupils. This is in a bid to re­turn the tests (crit­i­cized for be­ing “too stress­ful” for pupils) back to their orig­i­nal pur­pose — to as­sess their aca­demic com­pe­tence with­out re­quir­ing spe­cific drills for pupils.

The BCA is the revamped ver­sion of Ter­ri­tory-wide Sys­tem As­sess­ment (TSA), which was launched in 2004. The test drew con­tro­versy from par­ents as it en­cour­aged ex­ces­sive ex­er­cises and ex­tra tu­tor­ing.

Lam also de­liv­ered an­other elec­tion prom­ise on mend­ing re­la­tions be­tween the gov­ern­ment and leg­is­la­ture. She said she would be “very will­ing” to ar­range more meet­ings with law­mak­ers to ex­plain fu­ture gov­ern­ment poli­cies dur­ing her five-year term.

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