Investing in the holistic development of Macau's students - Plataforma Media

Investing in the holistic development of Macau’s students

School principals have come together to discuss the future of non-higher education in Macau and Greater Bay Area. Although priority is given to scientific areas, the lack of opportunities in the local market justifies a diversification in education

During the Great Bay Area Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Non-Higher Education Directors Conference hosted by the University of Macau last Saturday, the President of the Supervisory Board of the Association of Catholic Schools of Macau, Paul Pun, delivered a speech on the theme “Expanding Inclusive Education – We Are All Promoters and Guardians.

In that speech, Pun described his own experience at São João De Brito School, emphasizing that school educators must respect and care for different types of students.

“The future development of education should be holistic, including the cultivation of technological talents and moral education” Pun stressed. For the former principal – who stepped down as principal of St. John of Brito School last year – comprehensive education is not achieved by money alone, but by imparting the right values, training good teachers, and encouraging government policies.

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At the same time, he noted that moral education is often neglected to the detriment of subjects with more concrete and visible short-term results.

“In a singing contest, you can win prizes if you sing well. You also win prizes in technology competitions, but there is no morality competition.”

HOLISTIC VIEW

This Conference brought together a number of academics in the field of education and directors of non-higher education entities in Macau and the Greater Bay Area to discuss the current context, opportunities and challenges facing non-higher education in the region, especially in Macau. Participants believe that with the strong support of the Macao SAR Government in education development, a solid foundation has been laid over the past 20 years, and that the next phase of non-higher education in Macao should focus on cultivating students’ soft skills and interpersonal abilities.

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In an interview with PLATAFORMA, another speaker at the event, deputy director of the Macau Residents’ School, Chan Ka Leong, agreed that cultivating scientific and technological talent is currently a priority.

“Often in non-higher education, many students get excellent grades, but when they get to higher education, they do not choose science-related courses because there are not many openings in this area in the job market in Macau,” Chan explained.

This member of the Executive Council of the Macao SAR Government pointed out that one of the four major industries defined for the future development of Macao includes high technology.

“The report of the 20th National Congress emphasizes that education and technological talents are the foundation of social development. Therefore, we should focus on cultivating this area in non-higher education,” he described.

DIVERSIFIED EDUCATION

According to Chan, non-higher education in Macau has developed in a “very solid” way in the past.

Firstly, laws and regulations have been continuously promoted and improved, and the integration of public and private schools has been completed. Second, since 2014, Macao has introduced the framework of the regular education curriculum organization of the local school system and requirements for basic academic competencies of regular education.

These curriculum reforms have added flexibility to Macau’s school curriculum, not only to improve talent training, but also to improve the operation of schools. Past investment in education has also produced good results, with Chan noting the high ranking of Macau students in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA 2018).

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The results of the study showed that among the 79 countries/economies participating in the program, Macau’s 15-year-old students ranked third in the world in literacy, reading, mathematics and science, after China (Beijing – Shanghai – Jiangsu – Zhejiang ) and Singapore, the city’s best PISA score so far. In this regard, Chan Ka Leung believes that with 20 years of development since the handover, non-higher education should consider developing a diverse education.

“Although many schools are on the right track, we should think about new directions, such as international schools and schools with special characteristics.

“ONE SCHOOL, TWO SYSTEMS” IN HENGQIN AND MACAO

Chan Ka Leung also notes to PLATAFORMA that the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Development Plan states that Macau and Mainland China should promote each other in the area of education. The sub-director believes that any school in Macao’s New Quarter in Hengqin should adopt a “one school, two systems” approach, with classes following the Macao curriculum framework and others following the academic structure of mainland China.

Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Iong U recently revealed that the government plans to build a school in Hengqin’s Macau New Quarter, which will occupy 20,000 square meters and be built to Macau standards.

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This school will give priority to Macau residents with academic qualifications equivalent to those in the city, and is expected to have a capacity of about 1,000 students divided by 18 elementary school classes and 12 kindergarten classes.

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