Information Paper
Curriculum Development Institute


This paper sets out the organisation and work of the Curriculum Development Institute (CDI) as well as the way forward. Establishment and Functions of CDI

2. The Education Commission Report No.4 (ECR4), published in November 1990, recommended the setting up of a professional body to oversee curriculum development, and to serve as the secretariat of the Curriculum Development Council (CDC). CDI was thus set up in April 1992 as a new Division of the Education Department (ED).

3. The six main functions of CDI are as follows:

  1. serving the Curriculum Development Council (CDC) as its secretariat;
  2. curriculum planning including research, experimentation, innovation and evaluation;
  3. (c) Curriculum Development Institute providing and updating curriculum guides and subject syllabuses;
  4. developing resource materials and managing resource centres;
  5. liaising with the Hong Kong Examinations Authority, the Advisory Inspectorate of ED and teacher training institutions on the development and evaluation of the curriculum; and
  6. reviewing textbooks and providing resource library services.

Organisation of CDI

4. As recommended in ECR4, in addition to civil servants, CDI also employs non-civil servants on short-term contracts. This enables CDI to flexibly engage experienced front-line teachers and principals in curriculum development.

5. At present, CDI comprises seven sections with a total of 24 units. The seven sections are Planning Section; Development Section; Subject Specialists Section; Research, Evaluation and Project Section; Educational Technology and Educational Television Section; Target Oriented Curriculum Section and General Section (see Annexes 1 and 2). There are 207 professional staff, among whom 81 are on contract terms.

Relationship with CDC

6. CDC, re-structured from the previous Curriculum Development Committee in 1988, advises the Director of Education on all matters relating to curriculum development. One of the major functions of CDI is to assist the implementation of policies and programmes formulated by CDC.

7. The three-tier structure of CDC consists of the Council, co-ordinating committees and subject committees. The Council, whose members are appointed by the Secretary for Education and Manpower under delegated authority of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, functions at a central and strategic level. It is responsible for setting the direction and programmes for curriculum development. The co-ordinating committees are responsible for co-ordinating the curriculum among different levels or sectors, viz. kindergarten, primary, secondary, sixth form, special education, prevocational, and the textbook review. They are also responsible for reviewing the curriculum to ensure that it is balanced. The subject committees are responsible for the production of subject syllabuses, resource and teaching materials. Under CDC, there are at present seven co-ordinating committees and 68 subject committees, with a total of more than one thousand members. Members of the co-ordinating committees and subject committees are appointed by CDC. Membership of CDC and its committees is widely representative, including school heads, teachers, tertiary academics, representatives from the Hong Kong Examinations Authority (HKEA) and the Vocational Training Council, parents and employers, as well as ED officers.

8. When the Council or a subject committee proposes a work plan, CDI will invite experts and teachers, together with members from the Council or committee, to form a working group to undertake the task. To enhance transparency and to ensure that the curriculum can best meet the needs of schools and the society, the working group will consult educationalists and those in the relevant field through various channels. Major Tasks of CDI

9. The major tasks of CDI can be grouped into three areas: facilitating curriculum development, providing curriculum support services and developing new initiatives.

Facilitate curriculum development 10. To help schools provide a balanced and suitable curriculum, CDI publishes curriculum guides from kindergarten to sixth-form levels. It also develops and reviews syllabuses for different subjects in accordance with the objectives of the curriculum guides. To cater for the needs of the society and schools, CDI also produces cross-curricular guidelines such as those on civic education and sex education. In addition, it promotes student-centred approach in teaching, e.g. the Activity Approach in primary schools.

Curriculum support services

11. Besides the curriculum guides, CDI also produces teaching packages, video programmes, computer software, handbooks, English-Chinese glossary of terms commonly used in different subjects as well as other reference materials, to support classroom teaching. Since its establishment, CDI has published about 1,100 sets of such resource materials.

12. Government does not require publishers to submit textbooks for review. However, if they wish to have their textbooks included in ED's recommended book-lists, they could send the textbooks to CDI for review. The principle for such review is that the textbooks must meet the requirements of the syllabuses. So far, CDI has reviewed about 1,500 sets of textbooks.

13. To introduce and explain new syllabuses, curricula changes, teaching strategies and reference to school heads and teachers, CDI organises or co-organises with other educational bodies, seminars, talks, workshops and short courses, programmes etc. These activities help enhance teachers?professionalism and promote exchanges among schools. On request, CDI also conducts school-based teacher development seminars and workshops.

14. CDI also produces educational television programmes. CDI has just completed an overall review of the educational television services, with a view to providing better support to schools. Develop new initiatives

15. After piloting and trying out for three years, CDI has implemented the Target Oriented Curriculum (TOC) progressively in primary schools from the 1995-96 school year. The objective is to enable students to learn pleasurably and effectively. In the 1997-98 school year, about 80% of primary schools are implementing TOC at certain levels in Chinese, English and Mathematics. To cater for the particular circumstances of individual schools, CDI has adopted a mutual adaptation strategy to encourage schools to progress at different paces in implementing TOC.

16. CDI also designs different curricula to suit the different needs of students. The Fung Hon Chu Gifted Education Centre provides a variety of enrichment programmes and activities for gifted students. A Central Curriculum Development Support Team has been set up to provide support to schools with a high intake of academically low achievers. The Team has regular meetings with the teachers to discuss teaching strategies and to provide on-site support to teachers whenever necessary. CDI also designs a special curricula for students with special educational needs.

17. CDI has always been encouraging teachers to develop school-based curriculum with a view to enhancing teaching effectiveness, by adapting and re-arranging the curriculum according to the needs of their students. To enhance curriculum design, curriculum organisation and teaching strategies, CDI studies and develops new curriculum programmes, e.g. integration of subjects, mastery learning and modular curriculum. Schools are encouraged to implement these new programmes in different subjects and at different levels according to the needs of individual students.

The Way Forward

18. In parallel to the changing needs of the society and economy, the school curriculum has become more diversified. It has to be updated and reorganised to meet new demands. There is also need to review and improve the curriculum during the implementation process. These developments have increased the workload of CDI, which will improve its efficiency and through other measures to cope with these new demands.

19. To support the IT education strategy, which is being formulated by the Education and Manpower Bureau, CDI will update the school curriculum with a view to promoting the use of IT in schools to enhance teaching and learning. The aim is, as mentioned in the 1997 Policy Address, to facilitate teaching through IT in at least 25% of the curriculum.

20. CDI will continue to review the existing school curriculum to include more teaching about Chinese history and culture. In addition, as science and mathematical knowledge is essential in the modern world, CDI will ensure that due importance is accorded to the relevant parts of the school curriculum.

21. Future major tasks of CDI also include improving the efficiency of textbook reviews whilst maintaining a high standard; strengthening the continuity of the curriculum of various learning stages to enhance learning effectiveness. In addition, CDI will conduct evaluation studies on the various initiatives introduced in recent years, with a view to assessing their effectiveness and to improving further these programmes.

22. In the process of developing and revising the curriculum, CDI will continue to enjoy a high degree of professional autonomy. On the other hand, it will continue to consult widely at different stages of its development. This will provide an opportunity for educational workers to get involved and to contribute to curriculum development. It will establish a closer professional partnership with educational workers.

23. The Education Commission Report No.7 (ECR7) released recently recommends that CDI and CDC should examine in collaboration with front-line education workers the overall development of curriculum; and how schools can develop school-based curriculum. ED will study further the recommendations in ECR7. The role of CDI and CDC, and their relationship with HKEA and other education-related advisory bodies, would be considered in an overall review of education-related executive and advisory structure being conducted by the Education and Manpower Bureau. The review is expected to complete by end 1997.

Education Department
October 1997

Last Updated on 23 October 1997