Following is a question by the Hon Charles Peter Mok and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, in the Legislative Council today (December 3):
I have learnt that, in recent years, quite a number of advanced countries focusing on innovation and technology have put great emphasis on education relating to the four fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), including the provision of through-train support on further education and career development, scholarships and academic selection for students studying in programmes relating to these subjects, with the aim of enhancing students’ interests in taking such subjects. Also, these students are encouraged to set clear goals on further education and career development. Moreover, these countries proactively encourage women to pursue such subjects for the purpose of enhancing their capabilities in facing a society in which innovation and technology take the lead in economic development. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of a breakdown of the statistics on STEM-related subjects (including Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Design and Applied Technology, Information and Communication Technology, Science: Combined Science, Science: Integrated Science, and Technology and Living) among the Category A subjects of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) Examination, in each of the Examinations held since 2012, and set out such information by subject in tables of the same format as Annex 1;
(2) whether it knows the breakdown of the statistics on the students admitted to STEM-related degree programmes offered by the tertiary institutions funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC-funded institutions) in each year since the 2012-2013 academic year, and set out such information by department in tables of the same format as Annex 2;
(3) whether it has assessed if the local education policy has placed emphasis on the development of certain subjects; if the assessment outcome is in the affirmative, of the details and justifications for that; if the assessment outcome is in the negative, whether it will enhance the support for certain subjects in the light of the needs of Hong Kong; whether measures are currently in place to encourage students to take STEM-related subjects (such as providing scholarships and programmes for further education, etc.) and to encourage graduates to join relevant industries; if so, of the details;
(4) whether it has estimated the total number of posts and the number of vacancies that will be offered by STEM-related industries in the coming five years; if it has, of the details and a breakdown of the numbers by job nature; if not, whether it will make such an estimation and conduct a review of the relevant education policies based on the outcome; of the existing arrangements for recognition of qualifications for STEM-related industries, as well as the relevant statistics; and
(5) whether the authorities currently have measures in place to increase the proportion of female local students taking STEM-related subjects in HKDSE Examination, as well as the proportion of female local students enrolling in STEM-related degree programmes offered by UGC-funded institutions; if they do, of the details; if not, whether the authorities will implement specific measures to attract female students to take those subjects; if they will, of the details and timetable?
(1) Based on the information provided by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA), in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE), the statistics on STEM-related subjects (including Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Science (Mode I: Integrated Science; Mode II: Combined Science), Design and Applied Technology, Information and Communication Technology, and Technology and Living) in the past three year are summarised in Annex 3.
(2) The first-year student intakes of University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded undergraduate programmes in “Sciences” and “Engineering and Technology” by local/non-local, sex and broad academic programme category from the 2011/12 to 2013/14 academic years are set out in Annex 4.
(3) and (5) To cater for different learning needs of students and to facilitate their whole-person development, this Bureau has been promoting the provision of a board and balanced school curriculum for enriching students’ learning experiences such that students can build up a strong knowledge foundation at different stages of learning. On life planning education, we have been encouraging students to identify their own strengths and career aspirations. It is desirable for students to choose their elective subjects at senior secondary level according to their own interests and abilities. In this way, secondary school students may articulate smoothly with different studies at tertiary level, and subsequently, they may engage in relevant professions.
Senior secondary level is an important phase for students to migrate to tertiary education and to workplace. In this migration process, students have to face many challenges related to their further studies, and making career choices and other life-planning decisions. In this connection, the Chief Executive announced, in the 2014 Policy Address, the strengthening of life planning education. Starting from 2014/15 school year, EDB provides a recurrent subsidy of about $500,000 to each public sector school operating classes at senior secondary levels to strengthen life planning education with a view to supporting students to prepare for further studies and career development.
At present, boys and girls have equal opportunities in studying science- and technology-related subjects. Students of both genders may study the different subjects in the Science, Technology and Mathematics Education Key Learning Areas (KLA), and apply for the relevant Category A subjects in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination.
This Bureau has advised schools via EDB Circular on The Principle of Equal Opportunities that, among others, the Sex Discrimination Ordinance is in force and the Code of Practice on Education issued by the Equal Opportunities Commission is also put into effect. Schools should not subject their students to discrimination or unfair treatment due to their race, nationality, sex, etc. All students should have equal opportunities in the access to education. All along, EDB has been organising seminars of various nature for parents and teachers introducing the rights and obligations of students. We aim at enabling the different stakeholders to understand that Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering related subjects are equally suitable for both boys and girls. We also stress that students’ choice of subjects should be on merit of their aptitudes and aspirations, and gender is not a factor for consideration.
The Government is committed to providing our young people with quality and diversified study and career pathways with multiple entry and exit points, thus enabling them to unleash their full potential in accordance with their interests, aptitudes and abilities. At present, there are 19 local degree-awarding institutions in Hong Kong offering around 300 undergraduate programmes. These programmes cover a variety of disciplines, including STEM subjects. Students may apply for different disciplines in accordance with their aptitudes and abilities, and admission is conducted according to fair and merit-based principles. On the basis of the foregoing, the Government currently has no special policy to encourage students (including female students) to study in a particular discipline.
In fact, programmes related to STEM have always been among the mainstream programmes offered by the local higher education institutions. Taking first-year first-degree (FYFD) programmes funded by the University Grants Committee as an example, in the 2013/14 academic year, 17 089 students were admitted to FYFD places, of which 5 893 (33.5 per cent) studied programmes related to Sciences and Engineering & Technology.
Besides, through the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government Scholarship Fund and the Self-financing Post-secondary Education Fund, the Government currently administers a variety of scholarships for qualified outstanding post-secondary students in different disciplines (including programmes related to STEM), so as to encourage them to pursue excellence in academic and other areas. The Education Bureau currently does not provide any discipline-specific scholarships.
(4) Education Bureau has no information on the total number of posts and the number of vacancies that will be offered by STEM-related industries. The Qualifications Register (QR) is a centralised online database containing information on quality assured qualifications and their operators. As at end-October 2014, there were 1 611 qualifications and their associated education and training programmes on the QR relating to the four fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) (including qualifications and programmes with “Current” (i.e. the registration validity period of the qualification is valid) and “Prospective” (i.e. the registration validity period of the qualification has not yet started) registration status). These qualifications are categorised by Primary Areas of Study/Training including “Biological, Physical and Mathematical Sciences”, “Computing and Information Technology”, and “Engineering and Technology”. The number of qualifications under each of the three aforementioned Primary Areas of Study/Training and at each Qualifications Framework Level are set out at Annex 5. We do not have information on the number of people who have completed these programmes.
Ends/Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Issued at HKT 15:36