MR CHAN KIN-POR (in Cantonese): Thank you, President. The age of Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) has arrived, and concerns are mounting among the general public about the gradual replacement of human jobs by AI. In recent days, many scholars have pointed out that in order to avoid humans being replaced by AI, humans must first embrace technologies, to learn and master the latest technological advancements such as AI. I would like to thank Prof William WONG for proposing today’s motion. I consider that in order to maintain Hong Kong’s international competitiveness, we must accelerate the development of innovation and technology (“I&T”) education, including AI.
Since 2015, Hong Kong has been actively promoting I&T education, which is also known as STEM education, as a key education initiative. Although the initiative started relatively early, unfortunately, the results have been less than ideal. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2019, Hong Kong students have shown decent performance in mathematics, but there has been a noticeable decline in their ranking in science abilities. This reflects that despite the resources being invested in promoting STEM education, Hong Kong students have not been able to make progress in their abilities; on the contrary, they have regressed.
Currently, STEM education is not a standalone curriculum in Hong Kong’s primary and secondary schools. Instead, it is promoted through a “school-based” approach. In secondary schools, relevant STEM knowledge is scattered across different disciplines, and schools may exercise flexibilities to promote STEM-related teaching activities according to the needs. However, a study previously conducted by the Legislative Council has pointed out that the “school-based” approach has been too “loose” in both teaching and learning. Furthermore, a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Productivity Council at the end of last year revealed that 75% of parents considered that schools had insufficient or only average resources allocated to STEM, while 47% of parents did not arrange for their children to participate in STEM-related activities. The survey also indicated that currently only 29% of schools include STEM courses as one of their subjects, which is taught by dedicated teachers. All of these findings indicate that Hong Kong’s development of STEM education falls behind the times.
In fact, certain schools have shown outstanding performance in promoting STEM education by way of winning awards in numerous public competitions. However, there are also many schools that have progressed slowly or only made minimal efforts in this area. In order to promote STEM education, schools need to allocate resources and recruit teachers who have the knowledge to teach STEM. Additionally, STEM teaching activities are often considered extra-curricular activities, and schools tend to select interested or academically excellent students only to participate, resulting in only a small percentage of students being able to engage in such activities and failing to achieve widespread teaching of this discipline. On the other hand, as technology is constantly advancing, I&T education must undergo continuous innovation. Therefore, the teaching contents are crucial. With limited resources, it is difficult for schools to constantly update the teaching and learning contents. The Government should formulate specific teaching contents for schools and update them annually to ensure that they remain up-to-date.
We are already living in the AI age, and in the near future, AI technology will be extensively applied in our life and work, which will fundamentally change our way of life, just as we cannot live without the Internet nowadays. As an international metropolis, Hong Kong is committed to building itself into an international I&T centre. The Government must have the foresight to promptly introduce I&T education, including AI, in order to teach students basic AI and related knowledge, with a view to enhancing the basic capacities of our schools and enabling capable students to pursue AI-related university courses.
In order to promote I&T education, the Government should consider reforming the subject of “Integrated Science” in junior secondary classes, which currently mainly teaches students basic knowledge of biology, chemistry, and physics. We should add a substantial amount of STEM teaching contents, including AI, to ensure that all secondary school students can acquire basic I&T knowledge. On the other hand, the Government should consider introducing an independent I&T subject in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education curriculum, and even consider making it a compulsory core subject. Since Hong Kong students always take public examinations very seriously, only by making I&T an independent subject can we attract students to study I&T skills in a more serious manner.
Thank you, President.