Chief Executive Carrie Lam will announce how her HK$5 billion package for education will be spent on Wednesday. She said that she was confident her proposal will be passed at the legislature.
Both Lam and pro-democracy education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen told reporters on Monday that there was a degree of agreement among different political camps on how to use the extra funds.
Lam pledged during her election campaign that she would add HK$5 billion to recurrent spending on education every year – a sector that has long complained about inadequate resources. Recurrent spending on education amount to HK$75 billion – around 3 per cent of Hong Kong’s GDP – during the last fiscal year.
Before her first working day on Monday, Lam told the press that she will announce the short-term plans for her education funds at a Legislative Council question-and-answer session on Wednesday. She said she will continue discussing how to use the funds in the medium- and long-term with stakeholders.
“While developing these education policies over the past three months we took the policy suggestions from various political camps, including the pan-democrats, into account,” she said. “We found that [everybody’s ideas were] very compatible, so I feel they have a good chance to be passed.”
She added that pro-democracy education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen had responded positively to her suggestions: “Ip will help to lobby other pro-democracy legislators to accept these policies.”
Responding to Lam’s announcement, Ip told reporters that the chief executive conducted discussions with the education sector both before and after her election. He said there was a consensus between the sector and the government on how to use the extra HK$5 billion funding.
“This is really important: these policies weren’t made behind closed doors, unlike many education policies made in the past.”
However, he added that he and other legislators will have to read the actual proposal documents before deciding whether to support Lam’s plans.
Ip also called on Lam to respond clearly during Wednesday’s session as to whether she will suspend the Basic Competency Assessments (BCAs), a series of tests that have been accused of causing Primary Three students excessive homework and drilling.
Suspending the BCAs – formerly known as the Territory-wide System Assessments (TSAs) – had been one of Lam’s campaign pledges. She told reporters on Monday that she will ask the Education Bureau to reassess what will happen with the tests next year, given that this year’s tests have already ended.
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