Hong Kong Education System
In Hong Kong, kindergartens and kindergarten-cum-child care centres provide services for children from three to six years old. The aim of kindergarten education in Hong Kong is to nurture children to attain all-round development in the domains of ethics, intellect, physique, social skills and aesthetics; to develop good habits so as to prepare them for life; and to stimulate children’s interest in learning and cultivate in them positive learning attitudes in order to lay the foundation for their future learning.
The Government aims to provide a balanced and diverse school education that meet the different needs of our students; help them build up knowledge, values and skills for further studies and personal growth; and enhance students’ biliterate (i.e. English and Chinese) and trilingual (i.e. English, Putonghua and Cantonese) abilities.
Primary schooling starts at the age of around six and there are six years of schooling at the primary level. There are three modes of operation in the primary schools, namely AM, PM and whole-day. Encouraged by the Government, most primary schools are adopting whole-day operation. Chinese is the language of instruction in most of the schools with English being the second teaching language.
Since the curriculum reform at the basic education level in the 2001/02 school year, there has been enhanced learning and teaching in classrooms. Students are now enjoying a wide range of learning activities and there are improvements in students’ generic skills, values and attitudes. They are becoming independent learners. Schools continue to adapt the central curriculum to meet the students’ needs. By building on their strengths and experiences, schools can strengthen their curricula to help students better develop their lifelong learning capabilities and nurture their whole-person development.
There are three main types of local secondary schools – government schools which are operated by the Government; aided schools which are fully subvented by the Government but run by voluntary bodies; and private schools, some of which receive financial assistance from the Government. Government and aided schools deliver a curriculum recommended by the Government. They offer free and secondary education.
Besides, there are some international schools which offer non-local curricula and serve primarily non-Chinese speaking students and foreign nationals.
To cope with the challenges of the 21st Century and the demands of the rapidly developing knowledge-based society, the Government has implemented the 3-year new senior secondary (NSS) curriculum at Secondary 4 in September 2009.
This flexible, coherent and diversified curriculum aims at catering for students’ varied interests, needs and abilities, as well as nurturing students’ whole-person development and lifelong learning capabilities. The first cohort of NSS students graduated in the summer of 2012.
All students can now benefit from six years of secondary education. At the end of Secondary 6, students take one public examination – the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) Examination, which replaces the former Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination and Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination. The first HKDSE examination was held smoothly in 2012. The HKDSE qualification has gained extensive recognition locally and worldwide, in international benchmarking studies such as the National Recognition Information Centerreport and the Tariff System of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service in the United Kingdom. As of January 2015, more than 220 overseas tertiary institutions, including renowned universities such as Cambridge University and Yale University, have accepted the new qualification for admission purpose, and more are being added. (Details are available at: http://www.hkeaa.edu.hk/en/recognition/hkdse_recognition/ircountry_hkdse.html )