Provisional Legislative Council

PLC Paper No. CB(2)789
(These minutes have been seen
by the Administration)

Ref : CB2/PL/IP

Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Information Policy

Minutes of Meeting held on Tuesday, 2 December 1997 at 10:45 am in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present :

Hon CHOY So-yuk (Chairman)
Hon WONG Siu-yee
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon MA Fung-kwok
Hon TSANG Yok-sing
Dr Hon Charles YEUNG Chun-kam
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee

Member Attending :

Hon LEE Kai-ming

Public Officers Attending :

Mr Geoffrey F WOODHEAD
Principal Assistant Secretary for Economic Services

Mr Tony LI
Assistant Secretary for Economic Services

Miss Petty LAI
Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower

Mr Patrick CHUNG
EDI Co-ordinator

Mr NG Kwok-chuen
Assistant Director of Education

Assistant Director of Information Technology Services (Infrastructure)

Attendance by Invitation :

City University of Hong Kong

Mr POON Kee-hoo
Director of Computing Services

Hong Kong Baptist University

Mr Jerome J DAY, Jr
Director of CTSC

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Professor Kenneth YOUNG
Pro-Vice-Chancellor & Professor of Physics

Professor Y P CHUNG
Dean, Faculty of Education & Professor,
Dept of Educational Administration & Policy

Professor Omar WING
Dean, Faculty of Engineering & Professor of Information Engineering

The Hong Kong Institute of Education

Dr PANG King-chee
Deputy Director

Dr Francis CHEUNG
Senior Lecturer, Centre for Research & Development

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Dr WAI Ping-kong, Alexander
Associate Professor

Mr LEUNG Ka-tsun, Kent
Chief Computing Officer

Dr CHAN Chi-fai, Stephen
Associate Professor

The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology

Professor Roland CHIN
Head, Department of Computer Science

Prof Samuel CHANSON
Associate Head, Department of Computer Science

Prof Vincent SHEN
Professor, Department of Computer Science

Dr John WONG
Associate Director (Computer Technology Development),

Department of Computer Science

Mr Lawrence LAW
Associate Director, Centre of Computing Services & Telecommunications

The Open University of Hong Kong

Prof Danny WONG
Vice President (Academic)

Dean of School of Science and Technology

Associate Professor, School of Science & Technology

The University of Hong Kong

Professor CHENG Kai-ming

Associate Professor

Dr Jerome YEN
Associate Professor

Vocational Training Council

Mr Stephen AU
Chief Systems Manager

Mr William LI
Senior Systems Manager

The Hong Kong Association for Computer Education Ltd

Mr YIP Chee-tim

Mr NG Hok-ling
Council Member

Council Member

Representative of Hong Kong Information Technology Federation Ltd in Attendance

Mr John DALY
Council Member

Clerk in Attendance :

Mrs Constance LI
Chief Assistant Secretary (2) 2

Staff in Attendance :

Mr Colin CHUI
Senior Assistant Secretary (2) 2

1.The Chairman welcomed representatives of deputations and the Administration to the meeting. She said that further to the meeting on 28 November 1997, the Panel would continue to hear the views of the tertiary educational institutions and concern groups at this meeting on the subject of IT development as set out in the Chief Executive's 1997 Policy Address. The Administration would be invited to respond to views expressed by the deputations, at the next Panel meeting in January 1998.

I. Information technology development (meeting with deputations)

Presentation by deputations

City University of Hong Kong (CityU)

[Paper No. CB(2)654(01)]

2.Mr POON Kee-hoo presented the submission from CityU. He pointed out that Hong Kong lagged behind developed countries in the strategic planning for entering into an information age. The following suggestions were made -

  1. The Government should take the lead in promoting the use of IT in education. The IT Bureau Secretary should therefore have a strong background in both IT and education, and be given sufficient resources to promote IT in education.

  2. The IT environment for schools should be kept up-to-date. Sufficient numbers of computers, educational software and classroom facilities should be provided to schools.

  3. Different levels of training should be provided to teachers appropriate to their needs and aptitude. Technical support centres should be established in schools.

  4. Given the recent developments of IT and the plan to introduce IT education in primary schools, the existing IT curriculum should be reviewed. More emphasis should be placed on IT applications than computer programming.

  5. The Government should consider providing financial assistance to students to enable them to purchase their own computers.

  6. Consultancy and expert advice would be required to enhance the use of IT in education.

Hong Kong Baptist University (BU)

[Paper No. CB(2)654(01)]

3.Mr Jerome DAY presented the submission from BU. He considered that the new IT Bureau Secretary should be capable of and responsible exclusively for coordinating and leading IT development in Hong Kong. He also emphasized the importance of having high capacity communication networks, common software interface, enabled teachers and an appropriate cultural environment in making Hong Kong an information city. In this connection, he stressed the need to put in place a clearly articulated policy on Educational Information Strategy to maximise cost-effectiveness of the hardware installations.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)

[Paper No. CB(2)570(02)]

4.Professor Kenneth YOUNG presented the submission of CUHK, highlighting the following points -

  1. An information superhighway should be provided under the management of the public sector. Being a pioneer in establishing the Hong Kong Internet Exchange, CUHK was willing to offer its service and expertise to improve the community's IT infrastructure.

  2. Upgrading the community's IT capabilities would require a large number of IT professionals who should ideally have multi-discipline training. The need for post-graduate training and re-training was now grossly under-estimated in public sector manpower planning.

  3. Teacher training would be essential to the success of IT education. In addition to basic IT training, in-depth quality training should be provided to some selected 'seed' teachers so that they could train other teachers in schools.

  4. Schools should provide an IT learning environment for students. The HK School Net launched by CUHK offered healthy and education-related contents to students at a modest subscription.

  5. Substantial resources would be required for local software research and development.

The Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd)

[Paper No. CB(2)570(06)]

5.Dr PANG King-chee presented the paper from HKIEd. The following were highlighted -

  1. Targets should be set for IT in education. The Administration should develop a set of Student Learning Targets in IT at different stages of schooling for the next century. Similarly, a set of Teacher IT Competence Standards should also be developed for pre-service and serving teachers.

  2. While IT training for serving teachers would be essential, it would be more practical to train a number of trainers in view of the huge demand for IT training for teachers and rapid technological changes.

  3. A Central Office for IT in Education should be established to develop the strategic blueprint for implementing IT education at different stages of schooling. The Office should also be responsible for overseeing the implementation and evaluating the effectiveness of such measures.

On the possible contribution of HKIEd to IT education, Dr PANG gave the following information -

  1. HKIEd planned to launch pilot research projects to develop Student Learning Targets in IT and Teacher IT Competence Standards; the projects would be completed before December 1998.

  2. HKIEd would make collaborated efforts with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) in developing a new professional degree course for Form 7 graduates who would assume the responsibility of promoting IT education in secondary schools.

  3. Cross curricula teaching materials were already made available on Internet by HKIEd for use by secondary school teachers. Subject to availability of resources, a Centre for Multi-media in Education would be set up to develop multi-media courseware. HKIEd could also assist in research on IT education initiatives.

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU)

[Paper No. CB(2)570(07)]

6.Mr Kent LEUNG highlighted the following points in PolyU's submission -

  1. To enhance capacity of the existing Internet, the Government should join the second Internet which was an open, common interface information infrastructure (paragraph 18 of PolyU's submission).

  2. New curricula should be developed ahead of the arrival of computers in schools to ensure effective utilisation of resources. Local universities could assist in the research and development of new IT-based curricula for primary and secondary schools.

  3. In addition to the provision of personal computers to schools, the Government should also provide the necessary software and teacher training. PolyU could contribute to teacher training by providing short term part-time courses to eligible teachers who could then train their colleagues (paragraph 23 of PolyU's submission).

7.Dr Stephen CHAN added that there should be adequate guidance to students using IT learning packages. He considered that Government should take the lead in using IT and provide sufficient resources for technical support, research and development, in addition to hardware and software installations in schools.

The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST)

[Paper No. CB(2)570(08)]

8.Professor Samuel CHANSON presented the submission from HKUST. The following were highlighted -

  1. Teacher training was particularly important to enhance the knowledge and competence of teachers in using IT in education.

  2. Adequate funding should be provided to schools for acquiring/ upgrading IT facilities and developing courseware suitable for local environment. In view of the low commercial potential of courseware development, the Government would have to finance the bulk of the development costs.

  3. Technical support should be provided to schools for using IT in education.

  4. To maximise the cost-effectiveness of IT facilities in schools, these facilities could be made available for use by students after school hours and during school holidays.

  5. Government should identify and finance development and applied research projects in vital areas such as electronic commerce, distance learning, education software and database, digital libraries, Internet security, Chinese web standards, etc.

  6. Government should also put in place regulatory systems on intellectual property rights, privacy and security standards (e.g. digital signature).

The Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK)

[Paper No. CB(2)570(11)]

9.Professor T M WONG presented the submission of OUHK, highlighting the following -

  1. IT education in schools was a long-term investment which would take 10-15 years to see the results. It was therefore important to provide IT training also to the existing workforce in order to bring about immediate benefits to the community. To meet the demand, OUHK was ready to run IT courses for adult learners.

  2. To promote the use of IT, Government should ensure that access to the Internet was easy and affordable. This could be achieved by providing low-interest loans to teachers, students and professionals to help them purchase computers, and by providing tax incentives to the service providers to encourage lower costs for access to IT services.

  3. Hong Kong lagged behind other developed countries in the provision of computers to students in schools. The proposed numbers of computers (40 for each primary school and 82 for each secondary school on average) should be substantially increased to catch up with Singapore which adopted a 1:2 computer-student ratio.

The University of Hong Kong (HKU)

[Paper No. CB(2)570(16)]

10.Professor CHENG Kai-ming presented the submission from HKU. He stated that as the next generation had to be IT literate in order to survive, HKU's vision on IT in education was that every student passing the education system should be capable of using IT in learning and in work. It would be necessary to provide basic infrastructure and IT facilities to support learning at all levels. In this respect, HKU's mission was that every student should be able to use computers and the network in their learning after Year 1, and that support would be given to every teacher who would like to use IT in teaching.

11.To support and enhance IT in learning, the following measures would be taken -

  1. every incoming undergraduate student in September 1998 should be enabled to have a personal notebook computer;

  2. IT would be the core subjects under the reformed curriculum;

  3. initially 3 000 network access points would be provided in the campus including restaurants and hostels; and

  4. the registration, application and information/enquiries systems would be on-line.

12. Professor CHENG stressed the urgent need to introduce basic IT education for all students, so that they could gradually acquire higher skills in using computer and the network for learning and other purposes. He considered that there should be 5 levels for using IT in education, and secondary school students should be helped to start from the basic. It was impractical, however, to expect every teacher to use IT in teaching.

Vocational Training Council (VTC)

[Paper No. CB(2)570(17)]

13.Mr William LI presented the submission from VTC and highlighted the following -

  1. IT education should encompass all levels of education and should be extended to the working population.

  2. Teacher training was important to enhance use of IT in schools.

  3. Government should cultivate a culture to make the adult population feel comfortable in making use of IT in daily life.

  4. The new Bureau Secretary assigned with the IT portfolio should be an IT professional.

  5. Government should allocate more resources to VTC students in learning IT, e.g. by granting loans for purchase of personal computers.

The Hong Kong Association for Computer Education Ltd (HKACE)

[Paper No. CB(2)570(03)]

14.Mr YIP Chee-tim presented the submission of HKACE. The following points were highlighted -

  1. Government should consider providing the necessary accommodation for IT facilities in schools under the School Improvement Scheme.

  2. The IT industry and service providers should be encouraged to assist in and subsidise IT education.

  3. To create an IT culture in the community, Government should equip libraries, community centres and youth centres with network facilities for use by the public.

  4. Collaborated efforts should be made by Government departments, educational institutions, Employee Retraining Board and VTC to promote IT education among the workforce.

  5. An IT co-ordinator should be appointed in each school to assist teachers in computer education.

  6. Schools should have the flexibility in procuring computer equipment and IT facilities to suit their needs.


New Bureau Secretary for IT matters

15.In response to a member, Mr Jerome DAY said that the new Bureau should be responsible exclusively for directing and co-ordinating the overall IT development in Hong Kong.

16.On the qualifications of the IT Bureau Secretary, Mr Jerome DAY considered that the incumbent should be IT competent and have access to the necessary resources for implementing IT policies.

17.Professor CHENG Kai-ming remarked that the IT Bureau Secretary should be mainly concerned with policy co-ordination but IT knowledge would definitely be desirable.

High-level committee on IT

18.Responding to a member, Mr John DALY said that a high-level authority with executive powers should be set up to co-ordinate all IT-related matters in the community. To be effective, the committee would need to be an independent standing body with sufficient powers and resources to direct and co-ordinate IT initiatives. It should be supported by a secretariat for implementation of IT policies in different sectors of the community. Professor CHENG Kai-ming considered, however, that the Committee should be more concerned with policy co-ordination than actual implementation. To have an overall vision of IT development and to facilitate formulation of IT strategies straddling various government departments, the committee should preferably be chaired by an official of sufficient authority or even by the Chief Executive himself.

19.Mr Jerome DAY remarked that while the IT Committee would oversee the overall IT development and co-ordination, the Education and Manpower Bureau should be responsible for developing a coherent information infrastructure policy for educational institutions. His views was shared by Mr NG Hok-ling.

Creating an IT environment

20.As promotion of IT education in school would take years to bring about significant results, Mr John DALY considered that the immediate concern was to raise awareness in the community about the advent of an information age and the impact on socio-economic activities. The Government should actively create an IT environment to ensure Hong Kong would continue to be one of the most efficient places for business. His views were shared by Dr Stephen CHAN of the PolyU.

Teacher training

21.Professor Y P CHUNG commented that IT education comprised learning to use IT and learning through IT. Teachers selected as 'seed' teachers for IT training should possess three qualities -

  1. knowledge in IT;

  2. abilities to apply cognitive and learning psychology in IT teaching; and

  3. insight and vision of IT development in education.

22.Agreeing with Professor CHUNG that emphasis should be placed on training quality teachers for IT education, Professor CHENG Kai-ming also pointed out that, in Singapore, IT training was provided only to teachers of high performance. In fact, students often learned much faster than their teachers in the application of IT in learning.

23.On the question of whether IT knowledge should be one of the entry qualifications for pre-service teachers, Dr Francis CHEUNG said that it would be premature for HKIEd to impose additional entry requirements on IT, since IT was not yet part of the school curriculum in most secondary schools.

Funding for computer equipment and software

24.Responding to a member, Professor CHENG Kai-ming said that about $54 million would be required to purchase 2 700 personal notebook computers for all Year 1 undergraduates in the 1998 academic year. This would be financed mainly by outside donations, and partly by the University of Hong Kong Foundation for Educational Development and Research and general grants from the University Grants Committee (UGC) for equipment and facilities. He considered that, in the long-term, UGC should finance acquisition of basic computer equipment for all undergraduates. Dr Craig BLURTON added that educational institutions could also explore avenues for collaboration to achieve economy in scale in the acquisition of computers and software. He pointed out that some overseas institutions had successfully negotiated discounts or preferential prices for their students through bulk purchase of computer equipment. Institutions could also jointly develop and share specialised courseware. Details of such collaboration efforts should be further discussed among educational institutions.

Enhancing computer literacy of students

25.Several representatives said that basic IT education should be provided to students at all levels to enable them to learn with the aid of IT facilities.

26.Mr Jerome DAY said that it was also important to keep students and teachers up-dated on IT knowledge. This could only be achieved through self-learning and continuing education.

Mr KWOK But remarked that while students should be encouraged to learn to get information from the Internet, it would be in the wrong direction to emphasize on teaching through Internet as the process was too time-consuming and ineffective in view of the tight teaching schedule.

27.he Chairman thanked representatives of the deputations for their attendance and valuable views on IT development.

II. Any other business

28.As the original date of the next meeting (26 December 1997) was a public holiday, members agreed that the next regular meeting should be held on 23 January 1998. The Administration would be invited to brief the Panel on progress made in IT development as depicted in the Policy Address, and to respond to views expressed by the deputations on the subject.

29.The meeting ended at 12:50 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
13 January 1998