PLC Paper No. CB(1)315
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/PL/ED

Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Education

Minutes of Meeting
held on Friday, 19 September 1997, at 10:45 am
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung (Chairman)
Prof Hon NG Ching-fai (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon Mrs Peggy LAM, JP
Dr Hon Mrs TSO WONG Man-yin
Hon TSANG Yok-sing
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Dr Hon Charles YEUNG Chun-kam
Hon IP Kwok-him
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok

Members absent :
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
Hon MA Fung-kwok

Public officers attending:

For Items III to IV
Mr Raymond YOUNG
Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower

For Item III
Secretary, Hong Kong Examinations Authority
Deputy Secretary, Hong Kong Examinations Authority

For Item IV
Mrs Helen C P LAI YU
Director of Education
Assistant Director of Education
(Chief Inspector of Schools)

Clerk in attendance :

Miss Polly YEUNG
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)3

Staff in attendance :

Ms Sarah YUEN
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)4

I. Date and items for discussion for next meeting Members agreed to discuss the following items at the next regular meeting to be held on Friday, 17 October 1997, at 10:45 a.m. -

  1. Education on information superhighway;
  2. Educational exchanges between Hong Kong and the Mainland; and
  3. Issues related to the Curriculum Development Institute.

2. The Deputy Chairman suggested and members agreed to include the subject of "interface between different phases of education" in the list of outstanding issues of the Panel for deliberation when the Administration's review on the subject was completed.

II. Information papers issued since last meeting
(PLC Paper Nos. CB(1)153 and 185)

3. Members noted that two information papers had been issued for their general information.

III. Security measures of the Hong Kong Examinations Authority (HKEA)
(PLC Paper No. CB(1)230(01))

4. The Secretary, Hong Kong Examinations Authority (S/HKEA) briefed members on salient points of the information paper. He emphasised that the HKEA attached great importance to the security of its operations and would do its best to enforce and improve its monitoring system. Nevertheless, he also stressed the need for law enforcement and integrity on the part of responsible staff.

5. Referring to the recent conviction of a Subject Officer (SO) of the HKEA under the Hong Kong Examinations Authority Ordinance (the Ordinance) for permitting his son, who was a candidate for this year's Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE), to have access to confidential examination papers and marking schemes, the Chairman expressed doubt on the deterrent effect of the sentence of 200 hours of social service. In response, S/HKEA explained that criminal sanction was provided for under the Ordinance. As regards the reasons why the existing system had failed to prevent the case, he clarified that the SO concerned had in fact declared that his son was going to take the HKCEE but no redeployment of duties was made as his son did not sit for the examination of the subject of which he was in charge.

6. In response to the Chairman's enquiries about measures to enhance the integrity of HKEA staff, S/HKEA reported that there was sustained effort on the part of the HKEA to this end. For example, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) was invited to give talks from time to time and the section on Secrecy in the Ordinance including the legal consequence was stressed in the staff handbook. He also advised that in the wake of the incident, staff were now more vigilant of the need to maintain a high level of integrity and credibility.

7. To address concerns about the security of HKEA's operations, S/HKEA highlighted the security measures detailed in the information paper and assured members that an effective system was in place to ensure the security of examination papers from their development to the actual conduct of examinations. He stressed that the recent incident was purely an isolated case.

8. S/HKEA confirmed that in view of the recent incident, the Main Board of the HKEA had invited the ICAC again to assist in re-examining the security system of the HKEA. In reply to a member, he advised that a major recommendation under consideration would be that no single officer of the HKEA would have access to the examination papers and marking schemes of all subjects. At the Chairman's request, S/HKEA agreed to provide the Panel with the ICAC's recommendations when they were available.

IV. Moral education in schools
(PLC Paper No. CB(1)230(02))
Themes of moral education

9. Members in general felt that the themes of moral education should be firmly linked to local conditions. In particular, to meet the changing needs of post-1997 Hong Kong, the focus of moral education should be suitably adjusted to place more emphasis on traditional Chinese values like filial piety and modest living; as well as to cultivate a sense of belonging to the motherland. A few members urged that Hong Kong's privileged position as the meeting point of Chinese and western cultures should also be fully brought into play and suggested that the 1981 General Guidelines on Moral Education in Schools (the Guidelines) might need to be reviewed. In determining future themes for moral education, they considered that reference should be made inter alia to the Chief Executive's inaugural speech in which he attached due importance to traditional virtues.

10. In response, the Administration emphasised that the moral standards to be promoted in schools should be set in consultation with all parties concerned, including educational professionals, parents and the community at large. They also clarified that references to traditional Chinese values as enshrined in the writings of Confucius and Mencius had already been included in the Guidelines, which were sufficiently broad-based not to be limited by time. The cultivation of a sense of belonging to China was covered in the Guidelines on Civic Education and relevant teaching packages were also developed. Both sets of guidelines were reviewed from time to time and new teaching packages were produced to address changing needs. The Assistant Director of Education (Chief Inspector of Schools) (AD of E) cited the example of the teaching kit on "In Search of Values" first produced in 1992 and recently updated in 1996. Supplemented by the guidelines on civic education and sex education, the Administration was confident that the Guidelines could meet the needs of the times. Nevertheless, the Administration assured members that there would be public consultation on the draft syllabus for civic education for Secondary 1 to 3 after it had been considered by the Curriculum Development Council (CDC).

Evaluation of moral education

11. Members in general opined that the Administration should play a more proactive role in the implementation of moral education to ensure that parents, the community and schools were all actively involved in the process. In particular, as substantial resources were involved, a member opined that the Administration should designate a task force to monitor the effectiveness of moral education.

12. In response, representatives of the Education Department (ED) advised that although no task force had been designated to perform a monitoring role, the CDC had seen to it that elements of moral education were duly included across different subjects. In this connection, the Director of Education (D of E) remarked that the development of school ethos and students' moral values could be further enhanced in the context of building a quality culture in education as proposed in the Education Commission Report No. 7 (ECR 7).

13. The AD of E supplemented that to help schools promote moral education, the ED was actively providing support services such as organisation of exhibitions, seminars and workshops as well as production of teaching and learning packages and resource materials. To help teachers gain access to reference materials kept in resource centres, the ED would put the relevant catalogues on the Internet. The department also regularly reviewed the curriculum on moral education on its own accord.

14. Albeit that moral education was a long-term undertaking and relatively abstract in nature, members believed in the need for developing an objective set of quality indicators for evaluation. A member also suggested the conduct of a baseline study to provide for continual systematic evaluation of moral education.

15. In response, the D of E agreed that some benchmarks should be established for future reference and reiterated that the setting of quality indicators as advocated in ECR7 would provide a useful basis for developing benchmarks. Meanwhile, despite the difficulties in establishing a scientific monitoring mechanism for evaluation, the effect of moral education could still be assessed by ED inspectors who visited schools regularly to monitor the implementation of moral and civic education in the formal and informal school curricula. The ED recognised that while assessment of discrete moral values were conducted by organisations like the ICAC, there was a need for a more comprehensive evaluation.


16. As regards the approaches adopted for the provision of moral education, representatives of the Administration stressed the merits of adopting a multi-faceted approach to instill moral values in young people. At present, most schools adopted a permeation approach in which moral values were inculcated through teaching of various subjects, talks in school assemblies, discussion among students, activities in class periods and extra-curricular activities. The D of E emphasised the importance of concerted efforts of schools, families and the community in preparing young people to be independent and responsible citizens. In this regard, she also remarked that the mass media should also contribute to promoting positive values in young people.

Other concerns

17. A member elaborated his view that the effectiveness of moral education hinged on the community's perception of the importance of moral conduct over success, conscience over legality, and spiritual enrichment over earthly wealth and fame. He opined that moral integrity should be a requirement for teachers so that they could serve as role models for students. In response, D of E emphasised that it had always been the Government's objective to provide a "whole-person education" in which moral education was an integral part. To address the problem of over-emphasis on examination results, she said that the ED had put it to tertiary institutions to adjust their admission criteria to take account of not only students' academic performance but also their other achievements and service to the community.

18. Another member opined that the training available in such uniform groups as Boy Scouts and Red Cross could help develop young people's sense of responsibility and citizenship and suggested that the Administration should provide necessary resources to ensure that no student would be denied of the opportunity to join such groups because of financial constraints. In response, the ED confirmed that such assistance was available. For example, uniforms were on loan to students who could not afford to buy them.

19. Another member pointed out that according to a study, it was a common phenomenon for senior secondary students to experience confusion in their values. He asked whether inadequate emphasis on moral education at that level was a likely cause and stressed the importance of sustained moral education. In response, representatives of the Administration re-affirmed its sustained efforts to implement moral education and advised that senior secondary students had experienced confusion as a normal stage in their personal growth as they were in the course of searching and developing their own set of values.

20. Summing up the discussion, the Chairman urged the Administration to seriously consider members' views and to meet the new challenge brought about by the change of sovereignty by building on past efforts and initiating new programmes. He also reaffirmed members' suggestions on a re-examination of the Guidelines and the conduct of evaluation studies.

21. The meeting ended at 12:30 p.m.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
7 October 1997

Last Updated on 23 October 1997