Saturday, December 12, 2009

Regina Ip Faces Down Hong Kong Chief Executive over Education

The only thing of interest that I got out of Hong Kong Legislative Council member Regina Ip's memorandum on education policy for Hong Kong was the apparent numerous opportunities for American and other for-profit programs to team up with partners in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s educational services, from primary to college level, are largely publicly funded. With a price tag of over $60 billions, it is the largest consumer of taxpayers’ money. With the community crying out for more publicly funded educational services to meet the burgeoning needs of a knowledge economy, more tax dollars are needed to pay for all manner of services, ranging from pre-primary school vouchers to school places for students with intellectual disability, university places for associate degree holders and bridging programs for those who failed to meet the minimum requirements of Secondary Six admission. Can a big spender like education be made to generate profits in the same way that private enterprises are supposed to?

I can't imagine that many Hong Kong people would be excited about using more of their tax dollars to make universities more competitive, or more prevalent. They are more inclined, I would think, in bringing in world-class partners who actually are more business-savvy, more flexible, and better at achieving scale and quality than those in the Pearl River Delta Region.

Hong Kong's taxes largely come from property sales. and there is usually always a surplus of government money. But they seem to be less inclined to pour that money into education. They are likely to pour that money into large-scale infrastructure projects, or team ups with China development companies building roads and other things like property developments or shipping ports, or bridges.

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