The education for nurseries, schools and colleges in Hong Kong |

The education for nurseries, schools and colleges in Hong Kong

We took a look at the education system in Hong Kong; Here you will find out everything you need to know about the schools here...

Posted on

16 February 2014

Last updated on 28 June 2017
The education for nurseries, schools and colleges in Hong Kong

The Education system in Hong Kong is largely modelled on the system of education used in the United Kingdom, with a particular reference to the English System. However in 1997 the education system taught in local schools has been changed somewhat in order to reflect the different language of instruction. The new education model was introduced in the 2009/10 academic year and is now more reflective of the Chinese and North American systems of education. The education system is overseen by the Education Bureau and the Social Welfare Department.

Education Overview

The Hong Kong government has recently introduced an additional three years of senior secondary school into the free education policy making 12 years of schooling a possibility for all students. In addition to the 6 years of primary and 6 years of secondary school, parents are encouraged to send their children to three years of kindergarten, in order to prepare them for the social school environment.

All the years of education finally culminate with the HKDSE (Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education) exams. Once the HKDSE is obtained, the students will have a choice of tertiary education institutions based on their results.

The Hong Kong Education Department provides for three types of schools in the country. There are government schools, subsidized schools and private schools. Each has to adhere to the standards of education set forth by the government. Most schools in Hong Kong are co-ed, however there are a few schools that cater to single sex students.

For in depth information into the primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education see the Education Bureau's fact sheet.

The History of Hong Kong Education

Small village Chinese schools were observed by the British missionaries when they arrived circa 1843. Anthony Sweeting believes those small village schools existed in Stanley, Shek Pai Wan, Heung Kong Tsai and Wong Nai Chong on Hong Kong Island, although proof is no longer available.
By 1860 Hong Kong had 20 village schools. Chinese who were wealthy did not educate their children in Hong Kong, instead they sent them to major Chinese cities, such as Canton, for traditional Chinese education. The changes came with the arrival of the British in 1841.

At first Hong Kong's education came from Protestant and Catholic missionaries who provided social services. Italian missionaries began to provide boy-only education to British and Chinese youth in 1843. By 1861 Frederick Stewart would become "The Founder of Hong Kong Education" for integrating a modern western-style education model into the Colonial Hong Kong school system. One of the much contested debate was whether schools should offer Vernacular education, teaching in Chinese at all. Education was considered a luxury for the elite and the rich. The first school to open the floodgate of western medical practice to the Far East was the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese.

The London Missionary Society and Sir James Cantlie started the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese in 1887 (although, the ‘for Chinese’ was later dropped from the name). In addition, the London Missionary Society founded Ying Wa Girls' School in 1900. Belilios Public School was a girls’ secondary school founded in 1890 – the first government school in Hong Kong that provided bilingual education in English and Chinese.

The push for Chinese education in a British system did not begin until the rise of social awareness of the Chinese community following the 1919 May Fourth Movement and 1934 New Life Movement in China. Educating the poor did not become a priority until they accounted for the majority of the population. Financial issues were addressed in the 1970s. A small group of South Asian Hong Kongers marched through Central demanding more schooling in the English language on 3 June 2007. In the 2013/14 school year, there are 569 primary schools, 514 secondary day schools and 61 special schools.