[lg policy] Macau: Policy Address: Calls for quality education

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 10 14:54:11 UTC 2011

2012 Policy Address: Calls for quality education
10/11/2011 09:10:00 Alexandra Lages

Quality seems to be the key issue in the Education sector and
observers and professionals are calling for specific measures both for
the higher education and the non-tertiary education to be included in
the 2012 Policy Address. Macau’s Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On
will deliver his policy speech for next year on Tuesday, November 15.
Director of the University of Macau’s Educational Research Centre,
Teresa Vong Sou Kuan, says it is time to see the 10-year non-tertiary
education plan implemented. After the conclusion of the second round
of public consultation last month, she regrets that it is not yet
clear when the plan will be submitted to lawmakers’ appreciation.

Vong says the plan must be the government’s first priority in the
field of non-tertiary education, as “it will foster the education
development of the territory”. After implementing the project to
provide 15 years free education, the Administration should take the
education quality as the “greatest concern”. “Probably small-class
teaching will be one of the immediate targets at the school level,”
she added. “The revision of curriculum framework and expected
competences for each education level are working in parallel to
monitor the education quality. Of course, documents can’t put in
practice any change,” mocked Vong.

“I hope there is more time for teacher training in this area, because
it’s a must in order to have better results.”
But the sector should undergo a wider reform, says Gary Ngai.
According to the observer, the government should introduce “a strong
policy on reforming the educational system, especially by setting
‘Does the government have any orientation of how the continuous
education fund can enhance the territory capacity? Monitoring and
evaluation should be placed in 2012’

“[They should] Set a standard for languages at least,” the former
language interpreter said. “We must hire very qualified teachers also,
from mainland China, Hong Kong and other places, as well as give
teachers a higher salary,” he added. The government, he went on, must
“build a knowledge city”. And the first thing to do is “to train
people who have knowledge in different languages”.

“If you want to attract people [tourists] from all over the world, you
must know English and Portuguese. Very few people speak Portuguese,
except some public workers,” he said. “Portuguese is one tool to
communicate with the Portuguese-speaking world and the Latin world and
this can be a plus for us because Hong Kong and Guangzhou cannot do
it. We can build a Latin base in Macau,” said Ngai, who also heads the
Macau Association for the Promotion of Exchange between Asia-Pacific
and Latin America.

Assessment rules

Next year, Macau’s 15-year old students will join the Programme for
International Student Assessment (PISA) and that, warns Vong, may
again show some flaws in the local system. In the latest PISA report,
released last year, Macau students’ reading performance ranked between
27th and 30th, a result that is significantly below the international
average. Amongst the 65 participating countries and regions, Macau’s
reading literacy performance was also significantly below the
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average.

“To a great extent, some schools have already fallen into the trap of
examination drilling process in order to have a better performance in
PISA. How should we avoid this?” Vong questioned, stressing that the
issue should be addressed by relevant authorities. The government
launched the continuous education fund this year and Vong wants to
know the results of the policy aimed at enhancing the quality of local
human resources.
“Does the government have any orientation of how the continuous
education fund can enhance the territory capacity? Monitoring and
evaluation should be placed in 2012,” she pointed out.

‘Young generations will not be well prepared and their quality is
going to decline, because of the lack of quality in [Macau’s]
education system’

- Gary Ngai

Missing law

In the higher education system, the scholar hopes the government keeps
its promise and enacts the new higher education law. Director of the
Tertiary Education Services Office Sou Chio Fai vowed to submit the
bill for lawmakers’ appreciation until the end of this year, but not
much has been said.
The new law gives tertiary education institutions more financial
support, so that they are able to improve in terms of teaching and
research, Sou said.
“The old law is outdated and limits the development of higher
education. I guess most of the higher education institutes are eagerly
expecting the new law,” Vong commented.
According to the scholar, the new bill should grant more autonomy and
greater capacity for higher education institutions to create new
courses as well as to reconstruct current programmes. She also
suggested a better management of the Macau Tertiary Education Data
“A wider international network is needed in order to make it easy for
Macau graduates to have greater possibilities to work outside,” she
Jacky So Yuk Chow, dean of the Faculty of Business Administration of
University of Macau, also voiced some concerns over the higher
education system in Macau.
“How can it be competitive in Asia and around the world? Hong Kong has
more than six million people and has eight universities. Macau only
has 500,000 people and has more than 10 universities. Will there be
jobs available for all the graduates?” he questioned.

Nevertheless, Gary Ngai believes it is time for the government to put
more emphasis on education. Social and housing policies are needed, as
well as free education, he concedes, but the future of the city relies
on quality standards.

“One of the main points [of the 2012 Policy Address] should be
education, if they [the government] want Macau to survive in the
future with the regional competition and do not depend too much on
gaming,” said Ngai.
However, if the territory doesn’t correct its path, the picture will
not be rosy, he warns. “Young generations will not be well prepared
and their quality is going to decline, because of the lack of quality
in [Macau’s] education system.”

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