on 12 December 1997
ITEM FOR FINANCE COMMITTEE
HEAD 146 - GOVERNMENT SECRETARIAT: EDUCATION AND MANPOWER BUREAU
Subhead 001 Salaries
New Capital Account Subhead " Grant to a Quality Education Fund "
HEAD 188 - TREASURY
Subhead 001 Salaries
Members are invited to approve -
- the creation of a new commitment and supplementary provision of $5,000 million in 1997-98 for establishing a Quality Education Fund; and
- increases in the ceilings placed on the total notional annual mid-point salary value of all
non-directorate posts in 1997-98 in the permanent establishment of -
- the Education and Manpower Bureau from $25,357,000 by $5,962,200 to $31,319,200 to permit the creation of 15 non-directorate posts; and
- Treasury from $186,886,000 by $2,235,660 to $189,121,660 to permit the creation of five non-directorate posts.
There is public concern over the lack of adequate financial support for initiatives in quality education. At present there is also no mechanism with sufficient flexibility to provide funding for worthwhile one-off projects as and when they arise during the year.
2.The Secretary for Education and Manpower (SEM) proposes to set up a Quality Education Fund (QEF) of $5,000 million to fund worthwhile initiatives on a pilot basis and one-off projects that aim to raise the quality of school education, and to promote quality school education at all levels. SEM also proposes to create 15 additional posts in the Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB) and five posts in the Treasury to manage the work and the investment of the Fund.
The Quality Education Fund
3.SEM intends that QEF will be held in trust under the Director of Education Incorporation, who will act as the trustee of the funds. QEF should be managed in accordance with a trust deed which will stipulate the framework and all the salient features necessary for its proper management and administration.
4.The Education Commission (EC) in its recent Report No. 7 on Quality Education has recommended that QEF should fund -
- Innovative projects
Innovative projects or pilot schemes to improve the quality of teaching and learning. For instance, an educational body could apply for a one-off grant to launch a trial scheme on a new teaching method. If the scheme is successful, with proven results that the new method is effective, a policy initiative could then be considered by the Government to introduce the new method for all schools into the primary curriculum, and the funding of this initiative on a permanent basis may then be considered in the normal resource allocation within the Government. Other examples are projects which aim to develop school-based curriculum, new teaching materials or to increase students' civic awareness, reading skills or information technology proficiency, or other initiatives which enhance the students' learning ability and the teachers' effectiveness in any other subjects in the curriculum.
- Extra-curricular activities
Projects that promote a wider range of extra-curricular activities to provide students with an all-round education, with emphasis on their moral, intellectual, physical, social and aesthetical development.
- School-based projects
As schools are encouraged to practise school-based management and be more accountable to their students and parents, there will quite rightly be an increasing divergence in the kind of support that individual schools require in order to deliver what they see as quality education for their students. Projects in this category will cover a wide scope of activities, examples of which are school-based training courses for principals and teachers, trial scheme for new school-management tools, activities that promote home-school co-operation, pilot of new teaching methods for low academic achievers, and awards for students' achievements in various academic fields.
- Awards for excellence
Awarding excellence in the performance of schools and in teaching will effectively disseminate good practices and promote healthy competition across the schools sector and the teaching profession. It will also help maintain morale and enhance the esteem and social status of good teachers and school heads. EC's further advice will be necessary on how best to design such an award scheme.
- Educational researches, reviews and consultancies
These could be undertaken by schools/educational bodies/academics to address specific issues and problems in education, for instance the development of 'school Quality Indicators', innovative school designs, development of computer-assisted teaching and learning software. The QEF should also be used to fund occasional institutional reviews to be carried out by outside experts to monitor the quality of school education and the teaching standards of non-UGC funded institutions.
5.We believe that the proposed QEF would provide a ready source of financial support to the above-mentioned proposals. Since these projects are one-off in nature, they can be suitably financed from a capital fund like the QEF.
6.To ensure that the work of QEF reflects community expectations to the greatest possible extent, SEM proposes to appoint a steering committee under EC to set policies for the allocation of grants from QEF, and to make recommendations to him on all funding applications. The proposed membership of the steering committee will ensure that we have the best advice on the usage of the funds and that the funds are used to support a balanced range of projects. The proposed terms of reference and membership of the steering committee are set out in Enclosure 1. EC has been consulted and agreed to this approach.
7.Under the proposal, schools, educational bodies, teaching professionals and individuals will be able to seek funding from QEF to undertake particular projects or activities aimed at improving the quality of education. Where the steering committee sees a need for EC to take a proactive approach by initiating projects conducive to the development of quality education, EMB or Education Department should be able to make applications for funds. The basic criteria for disbursements will be the intrinsic merit of the initiative, the effectiveness and feasibility of the proposal. In line with the capital nature of the Fund, we will only approve projects which are genuinely one-off (including pilot projects of limited duration) and will not give rise to financial implications on a recurrent basis. As a rule, we will not use the Fund to create posts within the civil service. The proposed assessment criteria for allocation of funds from QEF are at Enclosure 2.
8.For proposed projects or activities with a duration of less than one year, we will normally make the grants on a one-off basis. In the case of projects which need to be conducted over a number of years and stages, we will normally give approval for one year or one stage in the first instance. We will only make grants for subsequent phases of the project, on a yearly basis, subject to satisfactory progress. Given the capital nature of the Fund, we will not entertain projects of a permanent recurrent nature. We expect to be able to make the first call for applications in early January 1998.
Additional Staff in EMB and the Treasury
9.SEM also proposes to set up a support unit in EMB which will have overall management responsibility for QEF and will provide secretariat support to the steering committee. The unit will be responsible for -
- managing and inviting applications for QEF;
- processing applications;
- monitoring progress of projects and reviewing progress with grantees;
- evaluating projects on completion;
- formulating recommendations on the basis of the findings from research and development projects funded by QEF; and
- disseminating the good practices and experiences resulting from projects funded by QEF.
10.SEM proposes to create two permanent directorate posts, namely one Administrative Officer Staff Grade B (AOSGB) (D3) and one Senior Principal Executive Officer (SPEO) (D2), and 15 additional permanent
non-directorate posts for the new unit. Also, to enable the Director of Accounting Services (DAS) to handle the investment of the Fund, he proposes to create five additional permanent non-directorate posts. Details of these proposed posts are provided in paragraphs 11 to 15 below.
Additional directorate support at the Deputy Secretary level
11.At present, we have one permanent post of AOSGB1 (D4) designated as DS(EM)1 to handle tertiary education, manpower planning and labour issues and a permanent post of AOSGB (D3) designated as DS(EM)2 to cover school education. On 13 October 1997, we created a supernumerary post of AOSGB (D3) designated as DS(EM)3 to cope with the substantial increase in volume and complexity of school education work. DS(EM)2 is now responsible for overseeing the work of EC, the formation of QEF, language education in schools, various major educational reviews and the long-term strategy for the application of information technology in education. DS(EM)3 is responsible for school education from pre-primary to secondary, teacher education, special education, supervision of the school building programme and the school improvement programme, and monitoring of the implementation of various education initiatives in the 1997-98 Budget and the 1997 Policy Address. The organisation chart of EMB is at Enclosure 3.
12.SEM has reviewed the supernumerary AOSGB post and considers that the increased workload in EMB in respect of school education is of a permanent rather than short-term nature. He will continue to require support of two officers at the Deputy Secretary level to cope with the increased complexity and volume of school education work.
Directorate support to head the QEF Support Unit
13.To provide secretariat support to QEF, SEM also proposes to create a permanent post of SPEO (D2) to head the QEF Support Unit and to increase the establishment ceiling for EMB for the creation of 15 non-directorate posts for the Unit. The proposed organisation chart of the QEF Support Unit is at Enclosure 4. On 13 October 1997, we created a supernumerary SPEO post to handle the work for the establishment of QEF and the support unit. We now require a permanent SPEO post because of the need to provide high-level input in the vetting of proposals, and the overall management of QEF. We have reviewed the schedules of the other Principal Assistant Secretaries/D2 posts in EMB and are of the view that none of them has any capacity for additional work. The two proposed permanent directorate posts of AOSGB and SPEO will be considered by the Establishment Subcommittee in January 1998.
14.The non-directorate posts of the Unit will comprise one Senior Administrative Officer, two Chief Executive Officer, two Senior Executive Officer, one Senior Chinese Language Officer, three Executive Officer I, two Personal Secretary I, three Personal Secretary II, two Assistant Clerical Officer, one Clerical Assistant and one Typist posts. Of those posts, three posts will be redeployed from the Support Unit of Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR) to the QEF Support Unit which will provide communal administrative support to the steering committee and SCOLAR.
Investment of the Fund
15.The power to invest trust funds is provided in section 5 of the Director of Education Incorporation Ordinance. We propose to appoint DAS to handle the investment of the funds and to set up a QEF Investment Advisory Committee which would comprise the Chairman of the above-mentioned steering committee, SEM, Director of Education (D of E) and DAS to set policies for and to monitor the investment of the Fund. We will adopt an investment approach which will generate a reasonable growth in the value of the funds whilst producing recurrent income to meet regular funding requests. The Investment Advisory Committee will formulate guidelines on asset allocation in order to meet this investment objective. QEF should also be allowed to accept sponsorship and donations from the community and the private sector to undertake specific projects.
16.DAS will strengthen his Provident Funds Branch to handle the direct investment of a large proportion of the funds which will be invested in local equities, bonds and bank deposits, and to monitor the performance of the fund managers to be appointed to handle the overseas investments. He requires five additional posts of one Senior Treasury Accountant, one Treasury Accountant, two Accounting Officer II and one Assistant Clerical Officer. The total full annual average staff cost for the five additional posts is $3,865,344. These costs, amounting to around 0.1% of the Fund, are consistent with the costs charged to the two Schools Provident Funds currently managed by the Provident Funds Branch.
17.D of E will publish the audited accounts of QEF and SEM will table them before the Legislature as soon as practicable after the closing of the accounts at the end of each financial year.
18.Subject to Members' approval of the proposed grant, we shall require supplementary provision of $5,000 million in 1997-98.
19.The total additional notional annual mid-point salary (NAMS) value of the proposed additional non-directorate posts for the QEF Support Unit is $5,962,200. Including the total NAMS value of $2,235,660 for the five additional non-directorate posts for the Treasury, the total additional NAMS value required is $8,197,860.
20.No provision has been included in the 1997-98 Estimates to meet the cost of this proposal. Subject to Members' approval of the proposal, we will provide supplementary provision required for 1997-98 under delegated authority.
21.On 7 October 1997, EC issued its Report No. 7 on " Quality School Education " which recommended that a QEF should be set up to fund one-off projects for the improvement of the quality of school education, and a support unit should be established under EMB to serve and manage QEF.
Education and Manpower Bureau
Enclosure 1 to FCR(97-98)81
Quality Education Fund Steering Committee
Chairman - non-official member of the Education Commission
Proposed terms of reference
- two members of the Education Commission
- two members of the Board of Education
- three from the schools/business/professionals sector
- representatives of the Secretary for Education and Manpower and the Director of Education
- co-opted members as and when necessary
With a view to enhancing the overall quality of school education, the Steering Committee will advise the Government on policies and procedures governing the operation of the Quality Education Fund (QEF), specifically -
- to make recommendations on the custody and use of QEF;
- to draw up procedures for inviting, and guidelines for assessing, applications for funding, and to set detailed criteria for allocations to be made from QEF;
- to consider applications for funding and to make recommendations to the Trustee on whether the applications should be supported; and
- to monitor the operation of QEF; and to review the effectiveness of the funded projects.
Enclosure 2 to FCR(97-98)81
Quality Education Fund
Assessment Criteria for Allocation of Grant
We propose that in assessing funding applications, the Quality Education Fund (QEF) Support Unit and the QEF Steering Committee should take into account all of the following -
- whether the scope and nature of the proposed project meets the objectives of QEF;
- whether the application sets out clearly what results are to be expected at the end of the project;
- the application should explain how to evaluate the expected results and how they could contribute towards quality education;
- the proposed project should not give rise to any on-going recurrent financial implications;
- the cost of the project is broadly commensurate with the expected results.