(Letterhead of the Hong Kong Society for Education in Art)
A position paper from the Hong Kong Society for Education in Art to the Education Commission, the Board of Education and the Education Department
(Quality education can be achieved only if
more emphasis is put on education in art)
Both the Education Commission Report No.7 and the Policy Address of the Chief Executive have emphasized the development of quality education. Given the slow progress in the development of art education in schools, and the fact that art is traditionally regarded as merely a means to "refine one" temperament� education in art is considered dispensable. Since a comprehensive review of the education system by the Education Commission is underway, the Hong Kong Society for Education in Art (HKSEA) would like to draw the attention of the education authorities to the inadequacy of art education in schools, which represents a deviation from the objective of balanced education.
Apart from improving students�ability to make aesthetic judgment and enabling them to have a better mastery of art and culture, art education also serves to enhance students�ability of expression and communication and broaden their horizons. More importantly, art education stimulates students�creativity and their incentives to learn, thereby equipping students for the sophisticated and evolving world. In this connection, art subjects are included in the core curriculum for primary and secondary schools in many overseas countries.
Quite on the contrary, in the curriculum attainment target and curriculum guide issued by the Curriculum Development Institute (CDI), art subjects are not included in the core curriculum for primary and secondary education. Teachers who have not undergone any training in art are allowed to teach art and craft in primary schools. While physical education is included in the regular curriculum for senior secondary forms, art, design and music remain as elective subjects. Only 6.5% of senior secondary students take art and design, and as few as 0.2% take music. Yet, the Education Department has not formulated any policy or plan to implement balanced education.
In order to promote quality education, the Government should aim at balanced education in which art education forms an essential part. The HKSEA has written to the education authorities proposing that changes should be made to the existing policy which is unfavourable to art education and hinders the development of balanced education. We are disappointed that the Government has not responded to our request positively and has made no concrete improvement. The HKSEA would like to recapitulate the following proposals that we have previously made to the education authorities:
Structure of Curriculum
1. Art subjects should be included as compulsory subjects for senior secondary students, and expanded to include drama, dance, etc in the regular curriculum. They should not remain as extra-curricular activities only.
Focus of Curriculum
2. The new syllabus of the art and design subject for junior secondary forms, as approved by the CDI, maintained that a major proportion of the curriculum should be devoted to the Chinese and Western history of art together with knowledge of art. Without an integration of history, knowledge and creativity in the teaching of art, the curriculum will only entail a lopsided approach which unduly puts too much emphasis on the inculcation of knowledge. This approach will have an adverse impact on the holistic development of students. It also runs counter to the principle of CDI's curriculum guide which underscored the need to scale down the curriculum and create a joyful learning atmosphere for students.
3. The requirement of having graduate teachers and certificated teachers in the proportion of 7:3 in schools should be expeditiously removed by the Education Department in order to allow schools more flexibility in the recruitment and promotion of graduate teachers teaching in art and music, so that the status of teachers teaching art subjects will be equal with that of their counterparts who teach academic subjects.
Qualification of Teachers
4. The prevalence of teachers without subject-based training teaching art and craft in primary schools warrants an expeditious review. The Education Department should formulate a policy requiring schools to recruit in phases teachers with subject-based training to teach the art and craft subject in primary schools, and gradually proceed to require all art and craft teachers to have subject-based training.
5. The design of standard school premises should be revised to include purpose-built classrooms for art education, such as drama room, choreography room, etc. There should be two art rooms in secondary schools with 24 or more classes so that schools can have sufficient spaces to offer the art and design subject for senior secondary students and students in the matriculation stream. In Hong Kong, art rooms in schools are often so fully occupied that they are unlikely to be available for matriculation students. This has in turn restricted the growth of the number of candidates in art in the Advanced Level Examination. Consequently, the intake of students by the art and design departments in tertiary institutions will be affected. Therefore, in order to cope with the practical needs, the Government should require secondary school premises to have two art rooms in the year 2000.
Training for Teachers
6. Degree courses should be offered by the College of Education as early as possible so that graduates will be fully trained to cope with the teaching of art and design. Besides, the College should also organize additional training courses for serving teachers so that teachers without subject-based training will gradually be replaced in primary schools.
7. Diploma courses in education should be offered by tertiary institutions including the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts to provide graduates with more career opportunities. With a sufficient provision of well-trained teachers for art education, the regular curriculum of art education will be enriched and improved.
The Way Forward in the 21st Century - College of Art
8. An additional college or institute of art should be built to cope with the development of society in the 21st century. The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts was established more than a decade ago. In view of the growth in population and the technological development in the run up to the 21st century, the establishment of an additional college or institute of art is warranted from the educational point of view and in light of the needs of society.
The HKSEA hopes that the education authorities will respond to the above points. Meanwhile, we would like to put forward other proposals for the consideration of the education authorities as follows:
9. The Government should build additional sports-oriented secondary schools for the benefit of students with talents in sports with a view to facilitating the development of balanced education.
10. The HKSEA is of the view that the Government should allocate land for the construction of a centre for art education in schools to achieve an optimal use of resources for art education and co-ordinate relevant activities and research studies. The Government should continue the Artists-in-Schools Program and take a proactive approach to promote art education.
11. Prevocational secondary schools and technical secondary schools are, in essence, schools which offer basic education. Students should have the right to receive balanced education, to which education in art is integral. Therefore, the syllabus of these schools should not only focus on technical subjects at the expense of art and design subjects. The Education Department is duty-bound to urge schools to implement balanced education.
The HKSEA welcomes the introduction of the scheme under which each secondary school may nominate to local universities three students with outstanding performance in sports and leadership. We hope that the Education Commission and the Education Department will take concrete steps and formulate policies to encourage schools to promote art education and balanced education.