on 16 September 1998
ITEM FOR ESTABLISHMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
OF FINANCE COMMITTEE
HEAD 146 - GOVERNMENT SECRETARIAT :
EDUCATION AND MANPOWER BUREAU
Subhead 108 Remuneration for special appointments
Members are invited to recommend to Finance Committee the non-civil service appointment of a language research professional as Head of the Support Unit of the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research on contract terms and at the equivalent rank of D2, with effect from October 1998 under Head 146 Government Secretariat: Education and Manpower Bureau.
The Support Unit of the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR) requires the continued support of a language education professional at the equivalent of D2 level to provide the necessary steer on research and administrative service.
2. We propose to make a non-civil service appointment to provide the necessary professional support to SCOLAR. The appointee will be designated as Head of the SCOLAR Support Unit (SSU) and remunerated at the equivalent of D2 in the Civil Service Directorate Pay Scale and on contract terms with effect from October 1998 under Head 146 Government Secretariat: Education and Manpower Bureau.
3. The SSU is at present headed by a language expert employed on contract terms for a period of two years from 16 October 1996. Designated as Head (SSU), the incumbent performs the duties as set out at Enclosure 1. Upon the expiry of the current contract in October 1998, we will continue to require the service of a language professional to carry out the same duties. While the incumbent's salary is being paid out of the Language Fund(Note), we propose to meet the cost of the new appointment out of General Revenue in order to avoid a recurrent drain of the Language Fund.
4. We propose to appoint the Head (SSU) by a non-civil service appointment. The appointment will be on contract terms normally for a period of two years. This will provide more flexibility in respect of appointment and contract renewal because the post-holder needs to possess up-to-date expertise in language research in order to keep pace with the latest trends and development in language education. We also need the flexibility to revise the entry requirements for the post to meet changes in operational requirements in the long run, as we may require candidates of different backgrounds to undertake the duties of the post when the more major research projects envisaged in the Education Commission Report No. 6 (ECR6) have been completed. Given the need for such flexibility in appointment and the special requirements of the post, we do not recommend making a civil service appointment.
5. In determining the ranking of the post, we have made reference to comparable positions in the civil service e.g. Head of the Curriculum Development Institute, and in tertiary institutions e.g. Head of academic departments. Pitching it at the equivalent of D2 level is appropriate having regard to the importance of language education, the status of SCOLAR, the complexity of the tasks involved, the leadership required to steer the work of the Support Unit, and the influence necessary for co-ordinating the activities and efforts by a wide range of academic and specialist institutions.
6. The non-civil service appointment will not form part of the civil service establishment and the appointee will not be eligible for posting or promotion to posts within the civil service. In addition to salary, he/she will receive fringe benefits and contract gratuity generally comparable to those offered to local officers of equivalent rank on agreement terms. The terms and conditions of the appointee would in overall be no better than his/her comparable civil service counterparts.
7. A team of contract staff comprising two Research Officers (remunerated at the equivalent of MPS 45-49) and two Project Assistants (remunerated at the equivalent of MPS 28-33), also on non-civil service appointment, provides professional support to the Head (SSU) in the work of SCOLAR. In line with the proposed funding arrangements for the Head (SSU), we have charged the costs of three of these contract staff to General Revenue upon expiry of their previous contracts and will so charge the remaining one upon expiry of his existing contract. The organisation chart of the SSU is at Enclosure 2.
8. The appointment of the Head (SSU) will require an additional expenditure of $1,002,415 in 1998-99. We have included sufficient provision in the 1998-99 Estimates to meet the cost of this proposal.
9. The Education Commission published its Report No. 6 in March 1996. The Report recommended a series of improvements to promote language proficiency in schools. These include the setting up of SCOLAR. The main functions of SCOLAR are -
- to advise the Government on language education issues in general, and in particular to set general goals for language learning at different levels of education;
- to propose specific language attainment targets at each stage of education;
- to identify suitable areas for research and development; and
- to co-ordinate research and activities relating to language proficiency by relevant agencies, monitor their progress and evaluate their effectiveness.
10. We set up the SSU in October 1996 to provide professional as well as administrative support to SCOLAR, including the management of the Language Fund. Since its establishment, SCOLAR, with the support of SSU, has processed more than 500 applications to the Language Fund, initiated a total of 24 priority research projects aiming to address important issues identified in ECR6, and vetted a total of 66 priority research tenders.
CIVIL SERVICE BUREAU COMMENTS
11. Civil Service Bureau supports the proposed non-civil service appointment of a professional as Head of the Support Unit of SCOLAR. The ranking of the proposed post is appropriate having regard to its duties and responsibilities.
ADVICE OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON DIRECTORATE SALARIES AND CONDITIONS OF SERVICE
12. As we propose a non-civil service appointment for the Head (SSU) post, advice from the Standing Committee on Directorate Salaries and Conditions of Service is not required.
Education and Manpower Bureau
(Note) The Language Fund was set up in 1994 with a one-off government injection of $300 million to fund worthwhile projects aiming at raising the standard of both Chinese and English languages.
Enclosure 1 to EC(98-99)6
Job Description of the
Head, the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research
Main Duties and Responsibilities
Responsible to the Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower (2) for -
- overseeing and co-ordinating all language-related matters and policies;
- providing professional advice to the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR) in respect of all research matters, in particular to identify suitable research projects, supervise the conduct of in-house research, oversee and evaluate research projects commissioned to outside agencies by SCOLAR;
- serving as Secretary to SCOLAR, its sub-committees and task groups;
- following through issues identified in the Education Commission Report No. 6 concerning the enhancement of language proficiency;
- establishing a network of liaison with relevant agencies and institutions to ensure that activities relating to language education and development are co-ordinated and that resources available for these purposes are maximised;
- developing a public education and information strategy on language education and development;
- co-ordinating the production and publication of resource materials in connection with various research projects and evaluation studies; and
- directing the work of the Support Unit including management of staffing and financial resources.