The Hong Kong Gifted Education Summit and Exhibition last December attracted educators and policymakers from the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Israel, Japan, South Korea, mainland China and Taiwan.
They shared their policies and school practices in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Representatives from Japan said their aim is to prepare young people for a mutually beneficial society where people and robots co-exist.
Meanwhile, mainland Chinese speakers said setting up future science awards will raise public awareness and boost support for science development.
STEM is a broad program, describing how future generations can adapt and thrive in a technology-driven society.
The success of STEM education cannot be achieved in schools alone. Close cooperation is needed between the government, academia and technology enterprises.
Hong Kong is obviously falling behind its peers in STEM development due to lack of effective cooperation toward a common goal.
Although the government, academia and the technology sector all agree on the importance of STEM, they are working out of sync thanks to the absence of a forward-looking blueprint co-crafted by the three parties.
At present, the Education Bureau injects funds into schools for STEM education.
Schools in Hong Kong regard STEM education as mastering the principles and application of innovative technological products like drones or 3D printing.
In reality, local technology firms are mainly specialized in information and communications technology.
In addition, STEM education is not quite about equipping students with technological knowledge but encouraging them to create and to innovate based on their scientific knowledge, logical reasoning and creativity in a constant process of trial and error.
This is the Achilles’ heel of Hong Kong education, in which model answers, exam skills and strategies dominate the system.
Students are trained to follow one way which would earn them flying colors in public exams.
They are discouraged to come up with their own way to succeed and failure is taught to be avoided instead of something that can be embraced.
Although Hong Kong is not alone in exam-oriented Asia, we educators should take the opportunity to promote STEM education to genuinely improve our education system that allows future generations to thrive with their interests and creativity.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 13
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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