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State Schools in Hong Kong

Submitted: July 2013

State schools are either partially or fully funded by the State. In Hong Kong, the Government provides nine years of free education, primarily from ages 6 to 15 which is compulsory, and this is overseen by the Education Bureau (EDB).

Common types of state schools include:

  1. Government Schools – aided and fully operated by the government for local student and only follow the local curriculum.

  1. Aided Schools – fully subsidized by the state but mostly operated by a local governing body. They follow local curriculum which is recommended by the EDB.

In addition to these, the government provides subsidies or buys school places in some private schools which are then made available to local students. Capnut Schools3 are one such example. Also, English School Foundations are operated by a governing body and effectively functions as an international school as the local curriculum is not adhered to. Furthermore, Direct Subsidy Schemes are also available. These schools, though private, receive full recurrent subsidy from the government but are operated by a governing body which has autonomy over the curriculum.

Schooling in Hong Kong may commence as early as three year of age where children are enrolled at the kindergarten level, and is very similar to the UK’s education system. This however is not compulsory, and government assistance is only given to low-income families, as government sponsorship only commences at the primary level.6 After three years of secondary education, compulsory educations as required by the state come to an end. After which, senior secondary which is not fully government sponsored comes in effect which focuses on preparing students for the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination. Those wishing to pursue tertiary education are generally required to do an addition two years of school before meeting the requirements for college acceptance.

The local curriculum administered by the EDB focuses on eight key areas, including Chinese and English Language, Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, among others. The government however encourages the use of Chinese as the main teaching language with the aim of getting students to be bi-literate. Those who do not know Chinese have the option of attending an English School Foundation.

As much as possible, the government encourages disabled students to be a part of the mainstream educational setting. This is not always possible hence some schools have been built to cater to students with special needs.

After deciding on a particular state school, admission may present the next challenge. The acceptance criteria are often opaque which makes the process especially tedious. Some schools select their intake based on academics, others look at family background or religion. In some cases, nationality or even gender might be the determining factor. Generally, applications are submitted a year before admission is considered and in some cases, a registration fee may be required. In other cases, typically not for government schools, a reservation fee may be required which can be as much as fifty per cent of the cost of tuition.

The incidence of bullying has been slightly higher in Hong Kong state schools when compared to Western and other Asian regions, with the most common form of school violence being verbal attacks. However, various programs are in place to combat this pressing issue which ranges from intervention to combat bullying, to tackling it from a positive youth development perspective.



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