Innovation for Hong Kong's Upward Social Mobility

22 3.1.4 The education system lacks STEM-oriented policies: In addition to research investment, education investment is also an important factor in promoting innovation and technological development. However, several indicators reflect that Hong Kong’s education may not be able to provide the community with suitable talents. In response to the full implementation of the New Senior Secondary Curriculum ten years ago, the performance of Hong Kong students in science subjects has been declining since 2012. Under the new curriculum, secondary school students have greater flexibility in choosing elective subjects, and Liberal Studies is also offered as a compulsory subject to cultivate their global vision and thinking. However, it is worth noting that the number of students in all science-related elective courses under the New Senior Secondary Curriculum has dropped sharply. 54 According to the test results of the Program for International Student Abilities (PISA) in 2018, which compared the academic performance of 15-yearold students in 79 economies, Hong Kong was ranked fourth in reading and mathematics, lagging behind Mainland China, Singapore and Macao55. Hong Kong’s past performance in science has always been excellent, but its performance has plummeted since 2015. The result in 2018 marked the first time Hong Kong has fallen to fourth place in reading and mathematics, two places down since 2015, while it remained ninth in science. The trends reflected in the figures are worrying. The report shows that only 7.8% of students in Hong Kong have the highest scientific abilities (levels 5 and 6), which is only slightly higher than the OECD average level (6.7%). This is even more alarming. Other economies in the region have performed relatively well in these subject areas. For example, the proportion of students with the highest scientific abilities in Macao is twice that of Hong Kong, and the proportions of students with the highest scientific abilities in Singapore and Mainland China are respectively three times and four times that of Hong Kong students. From another perspective, comparing the total number of students, if 100 students are randomly selected from various places, 57 students in Mainland China will have better scientific abilities than Hong Kong students. Singapore has 27 students outperforming Hong Kong students; Macao has 2256. In addition, according to a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers in 2017, respondents from the education sector believed that 83.8% of students did not have enough training and support in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); 63.6% of teachers replied that they had no confidence in teaching STEM subjects to students. Given that Hong Kong had a good record in providing world-class education in the past, the government should strengthen its support for students and teachers in providing quality STEM education in order to reserve more talent pools for Hong Kong’s technology industry, as well as contribute to the long-term development of the technology and innovation industries. 54 PISA results 2018: Latest rankings show Hong Kong down two places to fourth in reading and maths, remain ninth in science. (n.d.). Young Post. 55 The Standard. (n.d.). HK students falling behind. 56 OUR HONG KONG FOUNDATION (17 April 2020), Hong Kong students are backward in science and technology and need to strengthen applied education, %8A%80%E8%90%BD%E5%BE%8C-%E5%BC%B7%E5%8C%96%E6%87%89%E7%94%A8%E6%95%99%E8%82%B2 3 Challenges for the Development of Hong Kong’s Technology and Innovation Industries