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By the 1970s, big governments were criticized about interfering the role of markets and the ability of the individuals to run their own affairs. Managerialism and marketization of the public services was the main notion of 'new public management'. In order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness in the public sector, different strategies such as internal audit and quality assurance have been introduced. (Aucoin, 1990) As education is one of the key public services in Hong Kong, it cannot evade from the tidal force of marketization. The reform is related to the transfer of responsibility from the government to the school. In other words, there is a change in the nature of the government involvement with a view to becoming more competitive and catering for the demands in the market, and the ever-changing world. Efficiency, accountability, quality and efficient use of resources have become the 'yardstick' in assessing the performance by society, government and schools. Those criteria have made a great impact on education at all levels.
Policy of Decentralization in Schools:
In an attempt to promote 'quality education' in schools, Hong Kong government introduced the idea of a school-based management model with a view to bringing about decentralization. This policy based on an assumption:
when a market mechanism is in place in the education system, s
chools will become responsive and accountable to the public,
and thus will opt for better-quality performance. (Brown, 1995)
Decentralization allows schools flexibility to allocate resources. Marketization enhances the power of parents as they provide the demands. Diversity of school was decreased and therefore the competition between schools is violent. The roles of teachers and students have to change according to the above-mentioned factors.
Fig. 1 Marketization model (Modified from Ball)
Parental choice is one of the fundamental influences of the educational market. Restructuring education by the empowerment of parents and students through choices in education is the central idea under adoption of a market-oriented approach. In Hong Kong, most of the parents are fond of English Medium Secondary Schools because they believe in the myths of better educational services inside them. (Band1ç”Ÿå®¶é•·åæ„›å‚³çµ±è‹±ä¸, 2010) Currently, education is considered as a kind of commercial product rather than learning to learn. The whole schooling system can be regarded as a commodity market controlled by culture of quality. Moreover, schools are the factories for "value-addedness" while the students' learning outcomes are the commodities within the market. Parents are the driven force and exert great pressures to school in order to produce better responsiveness and academic effectiveness. (è¶Šå¤šè‹±æ-‡ç è¶Šå-å®¶é•·è¿½æ§, 2008)
In the wake of the economic restructuring of Hong Kong into a service economy, there was a great change of the prevocational and secondary technical schools in 2000. Education and Manpower Bureau revamped and enriched the technical curriculum by emphasizing more on business and technological aspects as well as languages. (Education Department, 1997) The differences between secondary technical schools and mainstream secondary schools became blurred.
Furthermore, inclusive education is introduced and implemented. Students with special educational needs (SEN student) are encouraged to receive education in ordinary schools as far as possible. This policy increases the learning diversity of students inside main stream schools. This follows with increasing of needs of resources and teacher re-training. In reality, however, there is inadequate support and resources. Under inclusive education system, schools can only receive $10,000 subsidies for every SEN student. Compared with the original system, schools can recruit one teacher and teaching assistance for every 15 SEN students. (èžåˆæ•™è‚²è¨ˆåŠƒåƒ§å¤šç²¥å°‘, 2005) Only 6% of teachers agree with enough support under the existing system. (Education Convergence, 2002)
In the past 15 years, the diversity of school is reduced due to revamping secondary technical schools and inclusive education. More and more schools became mainstream schools. Normally, those schools focus on academic aspects rather than developing student's potential since academic achievement of students is an important performance indicator under knowledge base society. Students' talents are always buried.
Under marketization, competition becomes much more serious than before. From the fact that the number of students entry to secondary one decrease dramatically(ä¸å¸äººå£è·Œå¹…é©šäºº, 2010), schools which did not acquire enough number of students might be closed by the government. In order to evade from this process, different schools principals using different strategies to attract students to study their school. The strategies including give different subsidy or even cash to the new students. According to the research (é¦™æ¸¯æ•™è‚²å°ˆæ¥äººå“¡å”æœƒæ•™å¸«å·¥ä½œèª¿æŸ¥, 2010), some teachers were forced to promote the school. The promotional activities including planning different activities, some even serve as salesmen on the street to promote the school. We believed that these should not be the duties of teachers. The direct outcome is teacher cannot spend adequate time on the lesson planning or preparing resource for students. This implies that teaching quality in terms of student learning outcome may deteriorate due to the shortage of preparation.
Second consider competition between students. Hong Kong is a knowledge based society. Under the concept of marketization, educational success implies competiveness, which further elaborates to money and high socio-economical level. We argued that the ultimate goal of education should not be served as a tool to climb up to higher socio-economical level. If marketization continues, the aims of education would become training students to achieve academic success only and in uniformity. We argued there would be two possible outcome of this uniformity. The first outcome is we would miss out value education. Previously school not only focus on academic area, but also the whole person development of students. Teacher can have flexibility to teach different area of knowledge, but not constrained to the examinational materials. But under marketization, we focus on the learning outcome and competiveness between students rather than value. It seems that the value education is no longer important in the modern society. Thus we argued this may be one of the explanations of the occurrence of different social issues.
The second possible outcome of uniformity is the changing of characteristics of students. After marketization, we focus more on competition as well as public examination. Thus different skills such as communication or collaboration may be omitted in the curriculum. From the example of the master graduate in Chinese university, this indicated that our current educational system keep training students in this manner.(ä¸å¤§ç¢©å£«200æ¬¡è¦‹å·¥å¤±æ•-, 2011) This in turn students can only perform well in the exam only, but cannot apply the knowledge in the real situation or using different skills to solve problems.
The effects of the reform of educational system on teachers:
In fact, the workload of teachers was very high before the reform of educational system. Teachers have more than 30 periods per week and it was one of the highest numbers around the world (Cheng, 2004). Moreover, the number of students per class usually is very high and it is about 40 per class. It may heavily increase the workload of teachers.
Under the reform of the educational system, the workload of teachers is further increased. In the past, the teachers could still handle their work. It was because of the standardized curriculum, lower in-class diversity of students and the relatively teacher-centered teaching style. However, under the reform of the educational system, the banding of students was changed from 5-band system to 3-band system. In other words, the intra-school diversity of students became much higher. This may result in the dramatic increase in the difficulty and cost of teaching and management of schools. Ultimately, teachers have to pay more effort to deal with the problems in teaching, conselling and resources allocation. As the diversity of student increases, the original high quality schools and students become mediocre since the resources have to be shifted to deal with the problems of less able students.
As mentioned previously, inclusive education is one of the important policies under the reform of the educational system. It aims to include some SEN students into the normal classes so that SEN students can accept the legitimate education. This may increase the intra-school diversity of students and the operating cost of schools. Also, extra supporting resources should be needed. However, a lot of schools don't meet the criteria to accommodate the SEN students and are forced to do so. Under the situation of high workload and 'big class', teachers actually have not enough time and energy to take care of the SEN students. As a result, the SEN students ultimately get no benefit.
The reform of educational system involves the change in the teaching strategies and the use of the teaching tools. In order to make the teaching more effective, teachers have to take a lot of training courses about the change of the curriculum, the application of information technology and etc. Also, some teachers have to finish the postgraduate diploma of education. Teachers have to pay extra time and energy on their studies. In addition to the workload and daily duties in school, teachers may feel collapsed. As a result, the success of the reform of educational system may be difficult to be achieved since teachers actually have no time and energy to take care of the diversity of the ability of students and help students' growth.
In conclusion, marketization have its own advantages such as improving efficiency of learning and teaching in terms of learning outcome. Nevertheless, the aims of education and value education are neglected in the current marketized educational system. We believed that the disadvantages overwhelm the advantages and this is not a good practice to our next generation.
Total words: 1675