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Hong Kong Education System

In Hong Kong, kindergartens and kindergarten-cum-child care centres provide services for children from three to six years old. The aim of kindergarten education in Hong Kong is to nurture children to attain all-round development in the domains of ethics, intellect, physique, social skills and aesthetics; to develop good habits so as to prepare them for life; and to stimulate children’s interest in learning and cultivate in them positive learning attitudes in order to lay the foundation for their future learning.

Primary Education
The Government aims to provide a balanced and diverse school education that meet the different needs of our students; help them build up knowledge, values and skills for further studies and personal growth; and enhance students' biliterate (i.e. English and Chinese) and trilingual (i.e. English, Putonghua and Cantonese) abilities.

Primary schooling starts at the age of around six and there are six years of schooling at the primary level. There are three modes of operation in the primary schools, namely AM, PM and whole-day. Encouraged by the Government, most primary schools are adopting whole-day operation. Chinese is the language of instruction in most of the schools with English being the second teaching language..

Since the curriculum reform at the basic education level in the 2001/02 school year, there has been enhanced learning and teaching in classrooms. Students are now enjoying a wide range of learning activities and there are improvements in students’ generic skills, values and attitudes. They are becoming independent learners. Schools continue to adapt the central curriculum to meet the students’ needs. By building on their strengths and experiences, schools can strengthen their curricula to help students better develop their lifelong learning capabilities and nurture their whole-person development.

Secondary Education
There are three main types of local secondary schools – government schools which are operated by the Government; aided schools which are fully subvented by the Government but run by voluntary bodies; and private schools, some of which receive financial assistance from the Government. Government and aided schools deliver a curriculum recommended by the Government. They offer free and secondary education.

Besides, there are some international schools which offer non-local curricula and serve primarily non-Chinese speaking students and foreign nationals.

To cope with the challenges of the 21st Century and the demands of the rapidly developing knowledge-based society, the Government has implemented the 3-year new senior secondary (NSS) curriculum at Secondary 4 in September 2009.

This flexible, coherent and diversified curriculum aims at catering for students’ varied interests, needs and abilities, as well as nurturing students’ whole-person development and lifelong learning capabilities. The first cohort of NSS students graduated in the summer of 2012.

All students can now benefit from six years of secondary education. At the end of Secondary 6, students take one public examination - the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) Examination, which replaces the former Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination and Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination. The first HKDSE examination was held smoothly in 2012. The HKDSE qualification has gained extensive recognition locally and worldwide, in international benchmarking studies such as the National Recognition Information Centerreport and the Tariff System of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service in the United Kingdom. At present, around 280 overseas tertiary institutions, including renowned universities such as Cambridge University and Yale University, have accepted the new qualification for admission purpose, and more are being added. (Details are available at:

Post-secondary Education
The Government strives to provide multiple study pathways for secondary school leavers, with multiple entry and exit points. Some of them will study bachelor’s degree programmes direct after completing HKDSE, whereas some will choose to study sub-degree programmes. For those who study sub-degree programmes, upon graduation, they can pursue study in top-up degree programmes (i.e. “2 + 2” arrangement) and obtain their undergraduate qualifications.

At present, there are 22 local degree-awarding institutions (9 publicly-funded and 13 self-financing ones) in Hong Kong. Apart from undergraduate programmes offered, students can also choose a wide diversity of sub-degree programmes as well as various continuing and vocational programmes that best suit their interests and ability.

We adopt a two-pronged strategy of promoting the parallel development of the publicly-funded sector and the self-financing sector in developing post-secondary education in Hong Kong. Currently, 48% of our young people in the relevant age cohort have the opportunity to pursue undergraduate studies. Taking sub-degree places into account, more than 70% of young people have access to post-secondary education.

There is also a wide array of taught and research postgraduate programmes for students who have graduated from their undergraduate studies to choose from.

Vocational and Professional Education and Training
Vocational and professional education and training (VPET) plays a pivotal role in broadening the learning opportunities for school leavers and in-service personnel as well as nurturing the requisite human capital in support of Hong Kong’s development. It provides multiple and flexible pathways for young people with diverse interests and aspirations.

The Vocational Training Council (VTC) provides through its 13 member institutions around 250 000 training places each year, offering people of different education levels with pre-employment and in-service VPET programmes.

Other post-secondary education institutions also offer about 160 self-financing higher diploma programmes, of which at least 60% of the curriculum consists of specialised contents (e.g. learning related to concentrations, disciplines and professions and vocational skills, etc.).

International schools
Apart from local schools, the Government aims to develop a vibrant international school sector in order to meet the demand for school places from overseas families living in Hong Kong and overseas families coming to Hong Kong for work or investment.