HK education chief in S'pore to share best practices on pre-schools

Hong Kong is hoping to take a leaf out of Singapore's kindergarten system even as the Chinese city mulls over a possible shift towards free pre-school education.

Its Education Secretary Eddie Ng spent two days in the Republic this week exchanging best practices with his counterparts and looking for opportunities for collaboration between the two cities.

This is part of a "global benchmark exercise", he told The Straits Times on Tuesday.

It comes as the city evaluates the feasibility of providing free three-year kindergarten education, an area that Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying promised to look into during his maiden policy address in January.

The delegation was in South Korea in June.

It left Singapore for Australia on Wednesday.

"I believe there is a lot of common ground for us to cooperate, collaborate, share best practices and find the best way to suit the specific context of these two locations," Mr Ng said.

Resources dedicated to training teachers, deployment of information communication technologies and the involvement of parents and other stakeholders are some of the areas being studied.

Singapore's "planning framework", for instance, is also very comprehensive and is one area that Hong Kong can learn more from, Mr Ng said.

This includes areas such as the accreditation of pre-schools to raise quality.

Dr Moses Cheng, head of Hong Kong's Committee on Free Kindergarten Education, added that the study allows them to identify what makes for a quality kindergarten education.

A child should be entitled to such an education regardless of the wealth of his family, Dr Cheng noted, adding that both cities also view affordability and availability as priorities.

The panel is also interested in finding out more about Government- operated kindergartens in Singapore since almost all the pre-schools in Hong Kong are privately- run, Dr Cheng added.

During his visit, Mr Ng met Minister of Education Heng Swee Keat and also visited Soka Kindergarten and Temasek Polytechnic.

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