Hong Kong Educational System

6 min read|Last Updated: September 14, 2021|
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Background Information About Hong Kong’s Educational System

The education system in Hong Kong is loosely based on that of the United Kingdom. This fact is to be expected due to the fact that from 1841 to 1997, Hong Kong was controlled by the UK. Across Hong Kong, there is compulsory education for 12 years. The first six years of these are spent in primary school and the subsequent six are spent in secondary school. The government places much emphasis on education so that the country will experience success on the international stage.

There are certain examinations in Hong Kong that determine for which field a student is deemed to be most suited. Students are moved into the fields of science, humanities, and professional training through these examinations. Examinations were also once used to assess the entry of students into secondary schools, colleges, and universities. Hong Kong started to move away from test scores and examinations as a primary determinant of such matters in 2000. Today, examinations such as the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) and the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE) no longer exist.

According to the latest projections, federal spending on education is expected to be around HK$124.0 billion, or 20.4% of total government spending.. Direct government grants are also available for certain schools across Hong Kong.

The schools funded by the Education Department of Hong Kong can be split into government schools, subsidized schools usually run by organizations, and private schools managed by various other organizations. There are also private and international schools which are separate from the government system. Such schools cater to expatriates as well as local parents for their learning model, the language of instruction, and the foreign curricula. Many of these institutions have waiting lists and higher fees compared to those of local schools.

The educational system of Hong Kong is constantly being reviewed and refined. There have been some changes in recent years towards fewer assessments. Schools are generally stringent and almost all students wear uniforms.

For elementary and six-year secondary education, schools in the public sector constitute the majority. These are either government schools run directly by the government or assisted schools typically managed by secular, voluntary, community-supported groups or operated by boards of directors and school boards. The government of Hong Kong has also made plans to establish a thriving international school sector to meet the demand for international schools from non-local families residing in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, international schools usually work on a self-financing basis and provide curricula from all over the world.

At the tertiary level, post-secondary government or self-financing programs are accessible. The eight universities sponsored by the University Grants Committee (UGC), the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (HKAPA), and the Vocational Training Council (VTC), offer publicly financed programs. Such post-secondary programmes, regardless of whether they are funded by the public or self-financed, are provided by various post-secondary institutions and have multiple different entry and exit points which may be used.


Educational Stages in Hong Kong

Kindergarten Education

Children aged three to six years receive education in Hong Kong’s kindergartens and child welfare centres. Hong Kong’s goal for these children is to educate them in the fields of morals, intelligence, and social skills so that they will develop good behaviours to be used for life and promote the desires of children in the areas of literacy and learning.


Primary Education

Primary education begins at the age of six and lasts for six years The primary schools have three modes of operation: AM, PM, and day-long. However, most primary schools are encouraged by the government to operate throughout the day.

The government has been attempting to provide a comprehensive and inclusive primary education curriculum which meets the needs of students; enhances students’ knowledge, values, and ability for further education and personal growth; and strengthens their ability and proficiency in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese.

Since the reform of the curriculum at the primary level in 2001-02, classroom learning has improved. Teachers also have a wider range of educational opportunities, and the levels of knowledge and competence of teachers have increased tremendously. However, schools must nevertheless adjust the core program to suit the needs of students. By doing so, schools can tailor their curricula to allow their students to obtain all the knowledge required of them.


Secondary Education

There are three main types of secondary schools in Hong Kong: government schools supported by the community, government-sponsored schools operated by charitable organisations but are entirely funded by the government, and private schools which may or may not have government financial assistance. There are also international secondary schools which provide non-local curricula. They primarily cater to non-Chinese speaking students as well as those from foreign countries.

All secondary school students attend it for six years of secondary school, after which they are to take the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) test. The HKDSE is recognized all over the world. Many significant international tertiary institutions from outside of Europe accept the HKDSE as a qualification for admission. These include some of the most renowned and prestigious universities in the world.


Tertiary Education

The government has made significant efforts to supply secondary school graduates with various access and end points across different training paths. Some enter undergraduate programs immediately after completing the HKDSE, while others choose to pursue sub-degree programs.

Apart from such programs, students may also choose from any of a wide range of degrees, continuing, and training programs which would fit their skills and interests. In addition to undergraduate programs. There are also many postgraduate training and study courses for graduates who are interested in taking such courses.


Vocational and Professional Education and Training

Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET) is important to increasing the educational opportunities of the school leavers of Hong Kong. It also promotes Hong Kong’s economic growth by increasing the supply of human capital. For youths in Hong Kong with diverse ambitions and goals, VPET offers an alternative educational path. Approximately 250,000 learning places are provided annually by the Vocational Training Commission (VTC) through its 13 member organizations. The VTC offers pre-employment and VPET services for people of various levels of education.


Non-Chinese Speaking Children Education

The government of Hong Kong guarantees equal opportunities for all students in public-sector schools. This fact also applies to students from non-Chinese speaking (NCS) backgrounds. The government does much to encourage their inclusion in the local educational system. It also helps such students learn to speak, read, and write Chinese. The government also allows NCS students to interact with various educational services through the assistance of school administrators, teachers, and parents

Hong Kong Educational System FAQs

What is the HKDSE?2020-02-19T08:52:45+00:00

The Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) is an academic qualification which was introduced in 2012. Its examination was formulated so as to improve the competence of Hong Kong secondary school graduates in core subjects. Core subjects in Hong Kong are Chinese, English, mathematics, and liberal studies.

Which countries are the primary destinations of most students who leave Hong Kong to further their studies2020-02-19T08:41:52+00:00

According to the results of recent studies, most students who leave Hong Kong to further their studies go to the United States, United Kingdom, or Australia. The latest statistics show that today, there are approximately 7,000 students from Hong Kong who are currently studying in the United States. Of the three countries which have been mentioned, the United Kingdom is the one which has accepted the greatest quantity of students from Hong Kong. Such a fact is to be expected because of the historical ties between Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. According to the latest count, there are around 20,000 students from Hong Kong who are studying in the UK today. There are almost as many students from Hong Kong in Australia as there are in the UK. The most recent figures show that there are over 17,000 students from Hong Kong who currently study in Australia.

Is the number of students who leave Hong Kong to study abroad expected to increase?2020-02-19T08:46:33+00:00

Many of Hong Kong’s secondary school graduates apply to study in universities within Hong Kong and abroad alike. The number of Hong Kong students expected to search for more educational opportunities abroad is expected to increase. Therefore, Hong Kong has the potential to become a major source of international students in universities all over the world.

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