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Hong Kong

Constitutional & Legal Foundation


Free and compulsory primary school education in Hong Kong began in 1971. By 1978 the government had expanded free education to children up to 15-years-old, covering primary and junior secondary school, grades one through nine. Then in the 1990s, the Hong Kong government analyzed the educational system and set down detailed plans for the twenty-first century. The Hong Kong Board of Education (BoE), which is a statutory advisory body of the Education Department (EdD), reported that "the aims of Hong Kong education were not made explicit until a formal document School Education in Hong Kong: A Statement of Aims was published by the Education and Manpower Branch (EMB) in 1993."

The EMB is the top governmental agency responsible for education and training. In addition to supervising policies, budgets, and programs, the EMB prepares reports and proposals for Hong Kong's ruling Legislative Council. Established in 1984, the EdD manages daily educational affairs. Its committees and subcommittees investigate, research, and propose policies to the EMB. Schools are evaluated regularly by the department's Advisory Inspectorate to make sure they are following official policies.

In 1992 the Curriculum Development Institute (CDI) was created as a wing of the EdD to develop curriculum for primary and secondary schools. Its major role is developing and supporting the transition to the new curriculum that stresses independent and analytical thinking skills; the use of new technology, including computers; the new ties with the mainland; and life-long learning skills. The CDI works closely with the Curriculum Development Council (CDC), which evaluates and proposes curriculum from the preprimary through secondary school levels. The CDC reports directly to the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.

Vocational and technical training fall under the responsibility of the Vocational Training Council (VTC), founded in 1982. This organization offers courses for technical and vocational careers. The VTC sponsors programs in a wide variety of occupations, from Chinese cuisine and hospitality to seaman and welding training.

The Hong Kong Examination Authority (HKEA) was created in 1975 to develop and administer a variety of examinations, ranging from testing for professional and commercial licenses to the two major secondary school city-wide examinations: The Hong Kong Certificate of Education (HKCEE) and the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE).

On December 19, 1984, the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Great Britain signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration of the Question of Hong Kong (Joint Declaration). China instituted the "One Country, Two Systems" policy. Article 5 states that "the socialist system and policies will not be practiced in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and Hong Kong's previous capitalist system and life-style will remain unchanged for 50 years." The PRC further protected Hong Kong's educational system through the Basic Law, which went into effect on July 1, 1997, the date that Hong Kong was officially handed over to the PRC. Article 136 of the Basic Law guarantees that ". . .the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall, on its own, formulate policies on the development and improvement of education, including policies regarding the. . .examination system."


Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceHong Kong - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundation, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education