According to the World Talent Report published by Switzerland-based IMD in November last year, Hong Kong lost the first place in Asia, getting beaten by Singapore. With the report stirring much public discussion, I wish to make two observations:
Firstly, an ability to solve problems is the key.
Hong Kong ranked 56th globally in the list of “total public expenditure on education” as the city’s public expenditure on education amounted to only a low percentage in GDP. The figure was at 3.3 percent, even lower compared to that of Kazakhstan, which stood at 3.6 percent.
However, there are other countries with public expenditure on education representing a similarly low percentage in GDP, such as Singapore (2.8 percent, ranked 60th), and Japan (3.3 percent, ranked 57th). But according to OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which tests science, mathematics and reading ability of 15-year-old students from 72 economies around the world once every three years, Singapore was the champion in all the categories in the previous assessment, while Hong Kong and Japan secured the second place.
Therefore, though investment in education by government is important, the figures could sometimes be misleading. I think students’ ability to apply their knowledge in solving real-world problems is even more important.
In the Chief Executive’s 2018 policy address, an annual funding of HK$900 million was proposed to provide “comprehensive learning allowance” to public and DSS schools to facilitate students to step out of the classroom and broaden their horizons.
Ability to apply the knowledge gained from the virtual world and books to solve problems in real life is something that young people really need to strengthen, something that also makes for a daunting task for teachers and parents.