Early Education Sector Calling for 15 Years of Free Education
Over 300 academics and representatives from the early childhood education sector gathered today (21 February) at the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd), to participate in a forum on the issues surrounding the provision of 15 years of free education to children in Hong Kong. A joint statement was issued as part of the forum, urging the government to implement the idea as a matter of policy.
The 15-year Free Education Forum: Implementation and Way Forward of Quality Early Childhood Education was organised by the HKIEd’s Centre for Childhood Research and Innovation (CCRI). The Council of Non-profit Making Organizations for Pre-primary Education (CNOPE), a body representing major early education organisations in Hong Kong, and the Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association (Hong Kong) (PECERA) were its co-organisers.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, HKIEd’s President Professor Anthony B. L. Cheung highlighted the importance of early childhood education.
"The 21st century is an era driven by knowledge and creativity. Nations around the world have invested vast amounts of resources in nurturing high quality and creative talents. Early childhood is the starting point of nurturing this new generation”, he said.
Signed by the CCRI and more than 20 early childhood education organisations, the joint statement expresses the firm belief that every child, regardless of his or her background, is entitled to quality early childhood education, which would best be provided through the implementation of 15 years of free education. The full version of the statement is attached.
Dr Doris Cheng Pui-wah, Director of the CCRI, said the active participation of scholars and practitioners in drafting the statement was the best manifestation of the consensus between academia and industry in enhancing the quality of early childhood education.
The Hon Albert Ho Chun-yan, a candidate in the Chief Executive Election, and Professor Yu Wing-yin, another Chief Executive hopeful, shared their visions for education at the forum. Leaders from major political parties in Hong Kong, including the Hon Cyd Ho Sau-lan from the Labour Party, the Hon Alan Leong Kah-kit from the Civic Party, the Hon Cheung Man-kwong from the Democratic Party, the Hon Starry Lee Wai-king from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, and Mr Jeff Sze from the New People’s Party, also expressed their views on the subject.
Hoping that a 15-year free education policy will be implemented in the next Administration, Dr Cheng said that "we are very pleased to know that those who intend to run for the Chief Executive election have expressed their support for this important policy. We look forward to this promise being realised”.
One of the guest speakers, Professor Teresa Vong Sou-kuan, Director of the Educational Research Centre at the University of Macau, discussed Macau’s experience in implementing its 15-year free education policy. Mr Tai Hay-lap, Principal of the Yan Oi Tong Tin Ka Ping Secondary School, and Dr Maria Lee Lai-wan, Vice-President of the Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association (Hong Kong), also spoke on the policies and practical aspects of quality early education.
Dr Cheng added, “We very much hope that the Government will seriously consider the importance of early childhood education and utilise public resources invested in this area more effectively”.
Appendix: Joint Statement
About the organiser/ co-organisers:
Centre for Childhood Research and Innovation, The Hong Kong Institute of Education (CCRI, HKIEd)
HKIEd is a university-level institution offering both education and non-education programmes at the bachelor, master and doctoral levels. It has also established an array of research and development centres engaging in impactful researches in the region and worldwide. Established in 2007, CCRI aims to serve as the centre of excellence for childhood research and innovation in the region. It is committed to conducting and promoting research into childhood, while providing professional support services to early childhood and primary education institutions and the community.
Council of Non-profit Making Organizations for Pre-primary Education (CNOPE)
Established in 2003, CNOPE is a council consists of more than 30 non-profit pre-primary educational organisations. It represents more than 300 kindergartens and nursery schools in Hong Kong. Its mission is to serve the community with their hearts, make use of child care policy, family support and professional teaching to take care and provide wellbeing of young children, parents and child care workers.
Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association (Hong Kong) (PECERA)
Established in 2001, PECERA is dedicated to disseminating and supporting researches in early childhood education within the Pacific area. PECERA Hong Kong chapter was setup in 2006, with the aim to create not only a platform for all the different educational professionals and practitioners to share their research findings and experiences in early childhood education but also to expand this concept to include all other professionals and experts.