LegCo Paper No. FC 122/96-97
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/F/1/2

Legislative Council Finance Committee

Minutes of the proceedings of the meeting held on Friday, 18 April 1997, at 2:30 pm in the Legislative Council Chamber

Members present :
    Dr Hon YEUNG Sum (Chairman)
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Allen LEE, CBE, JP
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Hon SZETO Wah
    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
    Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, OBE, JP
    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
    Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHAN Yuen-han
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon LAU Chin-shek
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
    Hon LEE Kai-ming
    Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
    Hon LO Suk-ching
    Hon MOK Ying-fan
    Hon Margaret NG
    Hon SIN Chung-kai
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP

Members absent :

    Hon Martin LEE, QC, JP
    Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
    Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, OBE, JP
    Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
    Hon CHIM Pui-chung
    Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
    Hon James TO Kun-sun
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
    Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
    Hon David CHU Yu-lin
    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon LAW Chi-kwong
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

Public officers attending :

    Mr K C KWONG, JP
    Secretary for the Treasury
    Mr Kevin HO, JP
    Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
    Miss Annette LEE
    Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower
    Mr K C NG
    Assistant Director of Education (Chief Inspector of Schools)
    Mr Daniel W C LAM
    Chief Systems Manager of Information Technology Services Department
    Mrs Lily S K LAI
    Principal Education Officer of Education Department
    Mr C K TAM
    Assistant Director of Education (Schools)

Clerk in attendance :

    Mrs Vivian KAM
    Assistant Secretary General 1

Staff in attendance :

    Mr CHEUK Wing-chuen Senior
    Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)2

Item No. 1 - FCR(97-98)1

The Committee approved the proposal.

Item No. 2 - FCR(97-98)2
Subhead 300 Code of Aid for primary schools
Subhead 834 Equipment for computer studies

2. In referring to the proposed provision of 15 computers for each primary school, members expressed concern over its adequacy in promoting computer literacy and if students would have sufficient opportunities for hands on experience. The Assistant Director of Education (Chief Inspector of Schools) (AD of E (CIS)) explained that the proposal was a first step in introducing computer knowledge to primary school students and that there was a need for the schools to tie in the programme with other available resources including training of teachers. Students would be expected to learn in groups of two to three. The Education Department would undertake a review on the proposal after its implementation and would seek additional resources if necessary. As regards the time available for hands-on experience for students, he estimated that this would be no less than 30 hours for Primary One to Three learning stage, and 40 hours for Primary Four to Six learning stage. This compared favourably with those of 27 and 36 hours respectively for students in the United Kingdom. On whether students could continue to operate the computers after school hours, AD of E (CIS) advised that this could be arranged by individual schools.

3. In response to a member on the target for providing one computer to each student, AD of E (CIS) confirmed that the Administration would pursue this concern. It would consult the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research and the Curriculum Development Council with a view to enhancing learning, including language training, for students through information technology.

4. A member pointed out that the estimated cost of about $30,000 for one computer was high and sought clarification on the types of equipment included; another member was doubtful about the adequacy of the recurrent grant of $14,000 per annum for each school for consumables and computer assisted learning packages. The Chief Systems Manager (CSM) of Information Technology Services Department said in reply that the hardware and the basic software together would cost slightly over $10,000 and the remaining amount would be for other expenses such as educational software packages and costs for connection to the Internet. As regards the recurrent grant of $14,000, AD of E (CIS) advised that the amount should be sufficient since the price of computer software was reducing as a result of competition. Moreover, annual revisions of the rate would be made in accordance with the movement of the Consumer Price Index (B).

5. In response to some members on the Internet access facilities, AD of E (CIS) said that two computers in each school had been proposed for linkage with the Internet to start with, but the Administration would closely monitor the need. He added that Internet charges, even for the international system of PNET, was very low. He took note of a member’s suggestion for developing a school net and undertook to follow-up accordingly.

6. Members were concerned with the tender procedures and specifications and enquired if the tendering document would include provisions for supplying the most updated models, and whether there would be any guarantee on the quality of the equipment. CSM said in reply that about 8 000 computers would be involved and these would be procured through an open tender process. The Administration was confident of securing the latest technology at a reasonable price, and there would be clauses in the contracts for Government to negotiate with the suppliers for the latest technological products. As regards quality assurance, CSM assured members that the requirements for both hardware and software would be clearly specified. AD of E (CIS) noted a member’s views for the procurement of protective screens and anti-virus software.

7. On the time involved between the tendering process and installation of equipment, CSM advised that the tendering process usually took about two to four months and that installation could be done by phases. CSM supplemented that as the computers were multimedia standalone ones which were not networked, installation should be simple and quick. AD of E (CIS) also confirmed in response to a member that a classroom could accommodate more than 15 computers if such a need was established.

8. A member made reference to the findings of a recent survey and expressed concern on the height of computer tables and chairs. He highlighted the need for tables and chairs which were adjustable having regard to the fact that these were for students of different heights ranging from Primary One to Six. AD of E (CIS) acknowledged this concern. The Education Department had issued guidelines to secondary schools to ensure compliance with professional advice, and he would also consult professionals on the height adjustments to ensure that these meet with the health standard for primary students.

9. In response to a member on computer training for teachers, AD of E (CIS) advised that three major types of training would be provided to teachers including courses on computer operation, computer assisted learning packages and advanced courses. At the Chairman’s request, he undertook to provide more details in writing. On the assessment on the increase in workload for teachers, AD of E (CIS) reckoned that this would involve only a few hours extra work. Additional staffing support to the teachers was not deemed necessary at the present stage but the need would be reviewed.Admin

10. In concluding, the Chairman requested the Administration to conduct an overall review of the programme in due course and reiterated the need to keep in view the long term goal of providing one computer for each student.

11. The Committee approved the proposal.

Item No. 3 - FCR(97-98)3
Subhead 700 General other non-recurrent

12. The Committee approved the proposal.

Item No. 4 - FCR(97-98)4
Subhead 700 General other non-recurrent

13. A member sought elaboration on the different treatment in initiation programmes for schools which had already joined the School Management Initiative (SMI) and for new entrants. The Assistant Director of Education (Schools) (AD of E (S)) said that as over the years the number of schools which had participated in the scheme was relatively small, it was possible for the Education Department to organize seminars and workshops and conduct school-based training for individual schools. With a target of about 900 schools over the next three years, such a commitment would no longer be possible. As such, a one-off grant to new entrants to the scheme had been proposed to cover trainers’ fees by professionals and academics and necessary expenses associated with the sharing of experiences by existing participants of the scheme. On the comparison of the unit cost between the training of existing and new participants, AD of E (S) said that since there were only 20 participating schools in the first phase of the scheme supported by the SMI Section, the unit cost would naturally be higher and a comparison would not be indicative. He highlighted the fact that many schools which had joined the scheme had proved successful and the sharing of their training and experience would be valuable.

14. As the proposed grant of $2,000 was made on the basis of a report published in 1994, a member enquired if the amount required adjustment to take into account inflation over the years. AD of E (S) said that this should be sufficient as a start. As the amount of $2,000 would be provided on a class basis, a school with 30 classes would receive a grant of $60,000. Apart from the grant, the schools could also make use of other types of subsidy such as the Administration Grant and the School and Class Grant.

15. As to the reason for only 208 out of the 1 117 aided schools having joined the scheme so far, AD of E (S) explained that the schools had many considerations other than resources implications. These included for example the need for the training of teachers, document preparation and the revamping of the School Management Committee by involving teachers, parents and members of alumni. On the review of the effectiveness of the SMI scheme, AD of E (S) said that the scheme was under constant monitoring by a standing Consultative Committee. Furthermore, the consultative document on the Education Commission’s Report No. 7 had also affirmed the effectiveness of the scheme in enhancing education quality, and had recommended that all schools should practise school-based management by the year 2000.

16. The Committee approved the proposal.

17. The Committee was adjourned at 3:15 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
30 April 1997

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