Hong Kong students are less prepared for the future than their peers in Singapore and South Korea are and may lose out on jobs as a result, according to new research.
Hong Kong came in 14th – behind Singapore, Japan and South Korea – in an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) index released on Tuesday that assessed how well a country’s education system prepares people aged 15 to 24 for the future.
A major problem for Hong Kong is its education policy, according to the study, where it was ranked 22nd. Singapore ranked first. In particular, the recourses for local Stem students are not as good as they are for students studying arts.
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“A lot of my friends who study science had to self-study before they went to England,” said 18-year-old Ernest Leung, a former La Salle College student. “The local curriculum covers less than the British equivalent.”
“This is really a call to action,” said Trisha Suresh, a senior consultant at the EIU. Suresh said the countries that did not prepare students for the economy of the future “just won’t be as competitive”.
Leung, who is starting at the University of Oxford in Britain next month, said that the way education is conducted in Hong Kong isn’t beneficial to those who end up going overseas for their studies, where they might end up having to adjust to an entirely different way of learning.
“In England, where the tutorial system is quite common, it can be tough for students to adjust to a more discussion-based learning system.”
Yang Rui, a Professor of Education at the University of Hong Kong, agreed. “Our students often lack healthy attitudes towards learning and, to a great extent, ignore other major aspects of learning, such as the intellectual, the social and the attitudinal ... and attach[ing] great importance to pragmatism.”
The countries ranked on the index make up 77 per cent of the global population. The study assessed how well the countries were preparing students for a world in which they will need interdisciplinary, creative, analytical, entrepreneurial, leadership, digital and technical skills, as well as global awareness and civic education.
“Hong Kong lacks a comprehensive policy when it comes to equipping youth with skills for the future,” Suresh said, but added that the city has started making efforts in that direction.
However, Professor Yang stressed that “[w]hile policymakers and researchers are overwhelmingly interested in educational reforms, they have been far more political and economic than educational and cultural”.