- Early childhood care and education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
- Primary and secondary education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
- Tertiary education (Entry/Establishment ○ Financial operation ○ Quality of teaching and learning ○ Equitable access ○ Quality assurance, monitoring and accountability)
The 26/1990 Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China refers to individuals, non-governmental organisations, religious organisations, and community organisations as non-state actors who “may, in accordance with law, run educational institutions of various kinds” in the Hong Kong SAR (Article 136). The 1971 Education Ordinance (as amended in 2016) defines a “sponsoring body” of a school as a “society, organisation, or body (whether incorporated or not) which is approved in writing by the Permanent Secretary to be the sponsoring body of the school”.
In 2020/2021, only 6% of schools in the Hong Kong SAR at primary (6 years, ages 6 – 11), lower secondary (3 years, ages 12 – 14), and upper secondary (3 years, ages 15 – 17) level were owned and managed by the state (covering 6% of total enrolments). Compulsory education is set for 9 years (from primary to lower secondary level), while free education has been extended to 12 years. Most education (94%) in the Hong Kong SAR is provided by non-state actors, but primarily financed by the state.
Non-state managed, state schools
No information was found.
Non-state funded, state schools
No information was found.
Independent, non-state schools
Private schools are self-financed, independent non-state schools which are owned and managed by private individuals and corporations and can mainly be categorised into schools offering local curriculum (54%) and those offering non-local, international curriculum (international schools) (46%). International schools mainly cater to students of a particular linguistic or cultural group who hold passports other than the Hong Kong SAR Passport (70% non-local students) and do not sit for local examinations. In addition to 1 special school operated by the English Schools Foundation, there are 54 private international schools offering different non-local curricula at both primary and secondary education levels in the region.
State-funded (government-aided), non-state schools
Most education at primary and secondary level in the Hong Kong SAR is provided by aided schools (covering over 70% of schools and enrolments). Aided schools are non-state schools run by religious or charitable organisations on a non-profit basis that are primarily subsidised by the state to ensure sufficient school places under free and compulsory education. These schools receive regular subsidies to cover teacher salaries, educational material, and operational costs under certain conditions (codes of aid) which include following the national curriculum, not charging any tuition fees, and having their management structure strictly regulated by the government.
Special schools are 61 aided schools that provide education to students with severe or multiple disabilities based on a special education curriculum approved by the government. These schools are provided with additional teachers, resources, and support in comparison to regular aided schools to meet the diverse needs of their students. There is also 1 international special school operated by the English Schools Foundation.
Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) schools are non-state schools run by religious or charitable organisations that receive per-student state subsidies in the form of block grants which gives the schools less assistance in comparison to aided schools, but increased freedom in areas such as curriculum, staffing, and admission. While given freedom in terms of curriculum, DSS schools are still required to mainly offer a curriculum targeted towards local students, preparing them for national examinations. Unlike aided schools, DSS schools can charge tuition fees under certain terms and conditions specified by the government (such as providing additional facilities). According to the 1971 Education Ordinance (as amended in 2016), aided schools with incorporated management committees are eligible to apply to become DSS schools. Most DSS schools operate at secondary level, where they accounted for 12% of schools and 14% of total secondary enrolments in 2020/2021. At primary level, DSS schools accounted for only 4% of schools and enrolments.
Contracted, non-state schools
No information was found.
While the 1971 Education Ordinance requires school attendance, several families in the Hong Kong SAR have gained “exemptions” by the Education Bureau (EDB) based on an unofficial case-by-case basis to home-school their children. The EDB does not provide any formal channel or specific special circumstances for families to apply for home-schooling.
During the nation-wide school closures due to COVID-19 in 2020, learning continuity was mainly implemented through home-based e-learning methods (online teaching), with learning materials being distributed to students via online platforms, email, school websites, or despatch.
Market contracted (Voucher schools)
No information was found.
The government of the Hong Kong SAR keeps detailed and updated records of unregistered schools which are in contravention of the 1971 Education Ordinance, including information on the offences committed by each operator and date of conviction. From 2018 – 2021, there were 26 unregistered schools on record. The government additionally keeps updated records of contraventions and convictions by registered or provisionally registered private schools offering non-formal curriculum. During 2018 – 2021, there were 8 of these cases listed. Unregistered schools may be suspended and/or ordered to close if they are found to be operating illegally.
The 26/1990 Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR of the People’s Republic of China permits the region to formulate policies on the administration and regulation of the education system, including registration requirements, language of instruction, fund allocation, examination system, and recognition of educational qualifications (Article 136).
The Education Bureau (EDB) is responsible for all education (both state and non-state) in the region from pre-primary (kindergarten) to tertiary level, with Regional Education Offices (REOs) supervising school administration and regulation within each region. Childcare centres (all of which are non-state) are supervised by the Department of Social Welfare. According to the 1990 Basic Law, the policies and regulations concerning the autonomy and grants to non-state actors in education have been maintained (subject to certain amendments throughout the years).
Vision: According to the EDB’s 2020 Policy Initiatives, the government of Hong Kong SAR promotes increasing collaborations with non-state actors in the provision of educational support to students, including large-scale learning activities, special needs support, educational materials, additional learning support, and career development.
Early childhood care and education (ECCE) in the Hong Kong SAR is exclusively provided by non-state actors, which include independent for-profit private enterprises and non-profit charitable and religious organisations funded by the government. ECCE services can be categorised into child-care centres (ages 0 – 3) which are supervised by the Department of Social Welfare and kindergartens (ages 3 – 6) which are supervised by the EDB. Most ECCE services at kindergarten level (77%) are provided by local non-profit organisations that receive subsidies by the state. Non-local kindergartens accounted for only 8% of total enrolments in 2020/2021. Since 2017, the government has extended free education from 12 to 15 years to cover kindergartens, which are regulated by the 1971 Education Ordinance and Education Regulations (as amended in 2016). Child-care centres are regulated by the 1997 Child Care Services Ordinance (as amended in 2020) and the 1976 Child Care Services Regulations (as amended in 2008).
This section covers regulations under the 1997 Child Care Services Ordinance and the 1976 Child Care Services Regulations for child-care centres and (some) for kindergartens. For kindergarten regulations covered under the 1971 Education Ordinance and 1971 Education Regulations, see Multi-level regulations.
Registration and approval: To establish a child-care centre in the Hong Kong SAR, an application must be made to the Director of Social Welfare accompanied by the application fee, required documents and infrastructure details listed in the 1976 Child Care Services Regulations (as amended in 2008) and the Operational Manual for Pre-Primary Institutions. According to the 1997 Child Care Services Ordinance (as amended in 2020), all managers of the child-care centre are strictly required to be registered with the Department of Social Welfare in order to operate the centre. In the case of nurseries and kindergartens, classroom size should not exceed 20 pupils for nurseries and full-day kindergartens, and 30 for half-day kindergartens.
Licence: If the Director judges the minimum requirements set out in the regulations have been met and that the applicant is fit to operate the centre, the applicant will be issued a certificate of registration.
Profit-making: ECCE services can operate on a for-profit or non-profit basis, but only non-profit kindergartens qualify for government subsidies under the kindergarten education scheme. Private independent kindergartens can reap a 10% profit margin that is distributed to shareholders. Kindergartens having been granted exemption from tax under section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance (Cap. 112) or being an approved subsidiary to an organisation exempt from taxes as recognised by the Inland Revenue Department (“IRD”) under the IRO as proved by a certificate or confirmation letter issued by the IRD are recognised by the EDB as non-profit-making kindergartens, while others are Private Independent Kindergartens.
Taxes and subsidies: Until the year 2016/2017, the government subsidised most non-profit making kindergartens in Hong Kong SAR through the Pre-Primary Voucher Scheme (PVS). The amount of fee subsidy was $22,510 per student per annum in 2015/16. The new free quality KG education policy has replaced PEVS with effect from the 2017/18 school year. It offers local kindergartens direct subsidies to cover school fees, teacher salaries, and other operational expenses. To join the Kindergarten Education Scheme, a centre must be operating on a non-profit-making basis, following local curriculum, and having a proven track record of quality education provision. Additional funding is provided to kindergartens with special needs to cover rent, repairs and required resources, while all managers of local non-profit kindergartens are granted tax exemption under the Inland Revenue Ordinance. Since the implementation of the program in 2017, over 90% of kindergartens joined the scheme, covering 77% of kindergarten enrolments in 2020/2021.
Curriculum and education standards: All programs offered at child-care centres must be well-structured, conducive to the balanced development of the child, and always supervised by a child-care worker. Subsidised kindergartens are required to follow the 2016 Guide to the Pre-Primary Curriculum and the 2017 Kindergarten Education Curriculum Guide developed by the EDB. Moreover, as part of the Curriculum Framework of National Security Education released by the EDB in February 2021 (see section on primary and secondary education), kindergartens are additionally required to “help children understand Hong Kong’s status as a part of the nation and their identity as Chinese and introduce to them the basic facts about the country and the Chinese culture, so as to foster a sense of national identity among children”.
Teaching profession: All child-care workers employed at child-care centres must be approved by the Director of Social Welfare and possess a Certificate in Early Childhood Education or equivalent professional qualification. Kindergarten teachers are additionally required to adhere to the Qualification Requirements for Newly Appointed Kindergarten Teachers. Similar to the existing practice, KGs are required to employ sufficient teachers possessing Certificate in Early Childhood Education [C(ECE)] or above qualifications based on the TP ratio of 1:15. As for teachers on top of the ratio of 1:15 and within the ratio of 1:11, in principle, the same requirement applies. The new KG scheme should remunerate qualified teaching staff employed within the required teacher-to-pupil ratio within the salary range specified by EDB. Specific rules for Continuous Professional Development of KG teachers and principals are detailed in Education Bureau Circular No. 8/2018 Kindergarten Education Scheme on “Enhancing Professional Competency of KG Principals and Teachers”.
Fee-setting: Any monthly fees charged by child-care centres must be approved by the Director of Social Welfare upon registration. Moreover, centres are prohibited from charging any additional fees or increasing their monthly student fees without official approval by the Department of Social Welfare, who may refuse a fee increase on any reasonable grounds. Individual kindergartens are required to apply to revise their school fees according to the annual income and expenditure estimates. Under the new scheme, applications for school fee collections are only considered on a case-by-case basis with strong justifications and supporting information (such as rental expenditure or teacher salaries) that cannot be fully covered by government subsidies or through the provision of the tide-over grant. For whole-day and long whole-day programs, parents are required to bear part of the additional costs, while fees should be at a low level (considering the additional subsidy provided by the government), with certain “needy” families granted fee remission. In all circumstances, kindergartens under the Free Quality Kindergarten Scheme are prohibited from charging any school fees which exceed the limits prescribed by EDB. For the half-day program, about 70%-80% of half-day KGs are free in the past four years from the 2018/18 to 2020/21 school year.
Admission selection and processes: The admission processes in ECCE services remain a school-based matter, and the only regulations found were in regard to periods of admission and application forms. To help parents make an informed choice, EDB provides essential information about KGs and Kindergarten-cum-Child Care Centers annually, including their curriculum, approved school fees, and qualifications.
Policies for vulnerable groups: According to the 2015 Report of the Committee on Free Kindergarten Education, the government provides additional grants to support lower-income families to pay for kindergarten expenditures such as books and uniforms. Moreover, grants at the rate of one teacher salary are provided to kindergartens that cater to at least eight or more non-Chinese speaking students and children with special educational needs . From the 2019/19 academic year, the EDB also provides a supply teacher grant to equip teachers with recognised training of supporting students with special educational needs and NCS students.
Reporting requirements: All child-care centres are required to keep records of child attendance, admissions, staff qualifications, accidents, illnesses, finances and accounts to be available for inspection by the Director of Social Welfare at any reasonable time. Moreover, program timetables must be submitted to the Director for approval, in addition to any other information requested in relation to the centre or the children attending.
Inspection: To ensure minimum standards in all registered child-care centres are maintained, the Director of Social Welfare or an inspector officer of the Social Welfare Department, EDB or medical officer may enter and inspect a centre at any reasonable time, requiring the manager and staff to provide any relevant information and records. If any person obstructs or hinders the investigation, they shall be liable upon conviction to a fine of 100,000 HKD (12,898 USD) and imprisonment for 2 years.
Child assessment: According to the Operational Manual for Pre-Primary Institutions 2020, all child-care centres and kindergartens should develop a system of systematically recording and reporting each child’s personal development (through observation of daily activities, behaviours and their tasks) in order to share the information with parents and assess the child’s learning progress. The manual specifies however that the only comparison to be made should be with the child’s past activities and behaviour (with no assessment made based on comparison with other children).
Sanctions: If any provision of the 1997 Child Care Services Ordinance or 1976 Child Care Services Regulations is found to not be complied with, the Director of Social Welfare may order the closure of the centre and/or cancellation of its registration. Moreover, if any child-care centre is found to be operating without a valid license by the Department of Social Welfare, the operator will be liable upon conviction to a fine of 100,000 HKD (12,898 USD) and imprisonment for 2 years.
Registration and approval: See Multi-level regulations.
License: See Multi-level regulations.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH): See Multi-level regulations.
Profit-making: While profit-making is allowed for private and international schools, non-state schools receiving subsidies from the government are required to operate on a non-profit basis as one of the conditions for receiving aid.
Taxes and subsidies: Most non-state schools in the Hong Kong SAR receive subsidies from the state to cover tuition fees, staff salaries, educational material, and other operational costs. Aided schools receive subsidies subject to conditions set in the 1994 Code of Aid for Primary Schools, the 1994 Code of Aid for Secondary Schools, and the 1998 Code of Aid for Special Schools, which include regulations in curriculum, staffing, management, and budget.
Curriculum and education standards: The curriculum provided at aided schools is subject to regulations set in the 1994 Code of Aid for Primary Schools and the 1994 Code of Aid for Secondary Schools. DSS schools are required to offer a curriculum targeted towards local students, preparing them for national examinations.
In February 2021, the EDB implemented the Curriculum Framework of National Security Education (included in Annex III of the Basic Law), with the aim to “develop in students a sense of belonging to the country, an affection for the Chinese people, a sense of national identity, as well as an awareness of and a sense of responsibility for safeguarding national security”. While recognising that international schools and private schools in Hong Kong SAR offer significantly different curricula compared to the local system, the Education Bureau Circular No. 3/2021 requires all schools (irrespective of curriculum followed, ethnicity, or nationality) to “help their students...acquire a correct and objective understanding and appreciation of the concept of national security and the National Security Law” by devising teaching content which instills in them “the right concepts and law-abiding awareness”. However, while subject to certain provisions of National Security Education, private and international schools are not required to submit curriculum work plans or annual reports to the EDB (applicable to state schools and aided schools). Specifically, the curriculum frameworks of subjects such as general studies, geography, and biology are also offered for different grades.
Teaching profession: See Multi-level regulations.
Textbooks and learning materials: According to the 1971 Education Regulations (as amended in 2016), all non-state schools must be provided with adequate teaching material and equipment based on the subjects being taught (which may be directed by the Permanent Secretary). Aided schools are prohibited from entering into any business agreement for the sale of textbooks or any other educational material without the prior approval of the Permanent Secretary.
Corporal punishment: Corporal punishment is prohibited in all schools and kindergartens under Article 58 of the 1971 Education Regulations (as amended in 2016).
Other safety measures and COVID-19: The location and construction of all school buildings must meet the relevant safety standards. A medical officer shall also be allowed to conduct a medical examination of any student upon school premises. During the COVID-19 school closures in 2020, all registered independent private schools and international schools were provided with three one-off relief grants by the EDB under the Anti-Epidemic Fund with the aim to alleviate financial hardship. Moreover, students from low-income households in aided and DSS schools were provided with additional top-up grants to support them in accessing online learning services.
Fee-setting: See Multi-level regulations.
Admission selection and processes: The admission process of aided schools is regulated by the Permanent Secretary, which may allocate students to particular schools to fill vacant places or direct schools to admit specific students. All aided schools are additionally required to maintain a detailed record of admitted pupils based on a form provided by the Permanent Secretary. According to the School Administration Guide 2021/22, aided schools must consider drawing up a code of admissions procedures for review by the management committee to ensure equity. Meanwhile, students and parents who are interested in the school should be kept informed of its admissions code. Private and international schools may set their own admissions process, but are required to ensure that at least 70% of their students are Hong Kong permanent residents.
Policies for vulnerable groups: According to the Financial Assistance Schemes for Primary and Secondary Students, there are various forms of financial assistance provided for needy students and families, including the School Textbook Assistance Scheme (for aided schools and DSS schools), the Student Travel Subsidy Scheme (to all “acceptable” formal institutions), and the Subsidy Scheme for Internet Access Charges (granted on a household basis). DSS schools are additionally required to set at least 10% of their total fee income to provide fee remissions and scholarships to students of lower socioeconomic status.
School board: Non-state schools in the Hong Kong SAR are managed by school management committees (incorporated under the Companies Ordinance 2013) or incorporated management committees (incorporated under the Education Ordinance), both of which need to be approved by the Permanent Secretary for Education. Aided schools are required to establish management committees comprising of the principal, an independent member, representatives of the school sponsoring body, and at least one representative of parents, teachers, and student alumni. If the Permanent Secretary is not satisfied with the management committee of a non-state school, he or she is authorised to appoint individuals or a company incorporated under the Companies Ordinance to be managers of the school for any period deemed fit.
Reporting requirements: The management authority of all non-state schools is required to keep detailed records of their syllabus, course timetable, pupils, and any fees charged and collected to be submitted to the Permanent Secretary upon request. Aided schools are additionally kept accountable by being required to provide detailed account books and financial records (as stipulated in the 1994 Code of Aid for Primary Schools and the 1994 Code of Aid for Secondary Schools) which include the school’s income, expenditure and balance, to be submitted to the Permanent Secretary for inspection whenever requested. The 2019 Introduction to School Management additionally aims to enhance transparency and accountability in the use of government funds and school daily operations for aided schools, requiring internal and external accountability mechanisms to be put in place. Finally, as part of the Quality Assurance for Schools Program developed by the EDB, all schools at primary and secondary level are required to participate in a self-assessment process based on the School Development and Accountability Framework, in addition to preparing a School Development Plan.
School inspection: See Multi-level regulations.
Student assessment: While students in aided schools are required to sit for the national examinations administered by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, private school students following non-local curricula may sit for approved international examinations. The School Administration Guide 2021/22 aims to facilitate the assessment of students’ learning in aided schools. It states that schools must provide effective feedback to students by progressive assessment and various methods besides just focusing on academic grades.
Diplomas and degrees: All students in aided schools are presented for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination.
Sanctions: See Multi-level regulations.
Tertiary education in the Hong Kong SAR is provided by 8 universities funded by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the government, 10 independent (private) colleges, and 3 universities (2 of which are self-financed). There are also 8 private schools offering post-secondary education courses. UGC-funded universities have the highest level of student enrolments (78%).
Registration and approval: To establish a non-state college in the Hong Kong SAR, an application must be made to the Permanent Secretary for Education under the 1960 Post Secondary Colleges Ordinance (as amended in 2019). The application will be considered based on several factors, including the courses offered, staff, facilities, finances, and legal status of the applicant (which must be registered as a corporation unless other arrangements have been approved by the Permanent Secretary). In the case of private schools offering post-secondary courses, permission and approval must be gained by the Permanent Secretary according to the 1971 Education Ordinance (as amended in 2016), with regulations applicable to non-state schools. In addition, institutions are not allowed to use any name other than the one registered.
Licence: If all provisions and requirements have been complied with, the Permanent Secretary will register the institution under an English and Chinese name, which may not have the word “university” or the or the Chinese words “Tai Hok” (大學) or “Hok Yuen” (學院) in its title unless approved by the Permanent Secretary.
Profit-making: While no regulation was found regarding the profit-orientation of non-state TEIs, profit-making institutions are not eligible to receive government loans under the Start-up Loan Scheme.
Taxes and subsidies: Non-state TEIs are offered government assistance through several subsidy schemes. These include the Start-up Loan Scheme which is an interest-free loan to non-profit-making providers to purchase, rent, and build campuses, and the Self-Financing Post-Secondary Education Fund to support institutions in enhancing their quality of teaching and learning. Finally, the Quality Assurance Support Scheme provides support to non-state institutions to implement and strengthen quality assurance measures.
Curriculum and education standards: All courses offered at non-state colleges must be approved by the Permanent Secretary upon registration and deemed suitable in meeting a community need. All colleges are additionally required to include major courses that extend over at least 4 years.
Teaching profession: The qualifications, salary, and conditions of service of all teachers employed in non-state colleges must be approved by the Permanent Secretary upon the institution’s registration. According to the 1960 Post Secondary Colleges Regulations (as amended in 2019), the minimum qualification for a teacher employed in a non-state college is a university degree.
Fee-setting: While no regulation was found on fee-setting, there are various financial assistance schemes available for students in non-state colleges, including the Financial Assistance Scheme for Post-Secondary Students, Non-Means Tested Loan Scheme for Post-Secondary Students, Extended Non-Means Tested Loan Scheme, and the Student Travel Subsidy for Tertiary or Post-Secondary Students.
Admission selection and processes: The 1960 Post Secondary Colleges Ordinance (as amended in 2019) prohibits non-state colleges from admitting students on the grounds of race, nationality, or religion. An exception is made for programs catering to students of a particular faith, the selective admission of which must be approved by the Permanent Secretary. If this provision is not complied with, the Permanent Secretary has the authority to cancel the institution’s registration.
Board: All non-state colleges are required to be governed by a Board of Governors, College Council, Academic Board, and Faculty Board. Each governing body is subject to approval by the Permanent Secretary and must comply with specific provisions listed in the 1960 Post Secondary Colleges Regulations (as amended in 2019).
Reporting requirements: The College Council of each non-state college is required to keep detailed financial accounts, books, receipts, and vouchers of all income and expenditure, that may be inspected by the Permanent Secretary or any authorised person at any time.
Inspection: To ensure compliance with the provisions in the Ordinance and Regulations, the Permanent Secretary or any authorised officer may enter and inspect a college at any reasonable time and require the staff to provide any necessary information and records.
Assessment: All college examinations for diplomas, degrees and certificates are conducted by examiners appointed by each College Council (upon recommendation of the Academic Board), with the Permanent Secretary authorised to nominate additional examiners if he/she wishes.
Diplomas and degrees: According to the 1960 Post Secondary Colleges Regulations (as amended in 2019), the minimum requirement for entering a non-state college must be the Hong Kong School Certificate or the Hong Kong Chinese School Certificate. Non-state colleges are additionally prohibited from awarding any diplomas, certificates, or degrees without the prior approval of the Chief Executive Council of the college.
Sanctions: An institution’s registration may be cancelled at any time by the Permanent Secretary if the provisions or minimum requirements set out in the 1960 Post Secondary Colleges Ordinance (as amended in 2019) or 1960 Post Secondary Colleges Regulations (as amended in 2019) are not maintained.
This section covers regulations on pre-primary (kindergarten) to secondary education, which are governed under the 1971 Education Ordinance and the 1971 Education Regulations. Both legal documents only apply to non-state educational establishments in the Hong Kong SAR, exempting “any school entirely maintained and controlled by the Government”.
Registration and approval: All kindergartens and non-state schools in the Hong Kong SAR are required to be registered under the 1971 Education Ordinance (as amended in 2016). Applications must be made to the Permanent Secretary of the EDB accompanied by any required documents (with additional documentation needed if the premises are not constructed as a school). The manager of the kindergarten or school is additionally required to be registered with the EDB, additionally providing the Secretary with proof that they are fit to manage an educational institution, financially stable, and a resident of Hong Kong for a minimum of 3 months a year. To be considered for registration, applicants must additionally fulfil the minimum requirements regarding infrastructure (providing certificates from the Building Authority and Fire Service Department), management, health and safety, and classroom size (the latter requirements differing for kindergartens and primary/secondary schools).
Licence: If the Permanent Secretary is satisfied that the premises comply with the minimum infrastructure standards, the management committee proposed is satisfactory, and the student fees proposed are not excessive, the applicant may be issued a certificate of provisional registration (valid for up to 12 months). After the period of provisional registration, a certificate of registration may be issued if all requirements have been evaluated and met.
WASH: All non-state schools and kindergartens are required to comply with the minimum health and sanitation standards set out in the 1971 Education Regulations, which include an adequate provision of latrines (separated by sex) and sufficient supply of clean and drinkable water (with additional standards listed for boarding schools).
Curriculum and education standards: All kindergartens and non-state schools are required to have their curriculum and syllabus approved by the Permanent Secretary, which may give schools specific instructions on content that should be included or prohibited.
Teaching profession: All teachers employed in kindergartens and non-state schools must be registered and permitted to teach (with an approved qualification), with specific requirements for different educational courses listed in the 1971 Education Regulations (as amended in 2016). The appointment and dismissal of teachers in aided schools must be approved by the majority of managers at the school, while the managing authority of each school is responsible for ensuring that the salaries of all teachers are paid in full when due. In addition, all teachers must be issued letters of appointment which set out their conditions of service, salary scale, and conditions of termination of employment. Salary scales for aided schools are determined by the 1994 Code of Aid for Primary Schools, the 1994 Code of Aid for Secondary Schools, and the 1998 Code of Aid for Special Schools. The conditions of service for teachers in private schools and aided schools are regulated separately, with specific provisions (in private schools) for salary scales and leave (including maternity and paternity leave). Teacher appointment in private schools is additionally regulated by Circular No.5/2005, which states that “in all cases, private schools should ensure that the conditions and terms of appointment are in strict compliance with the Education Ordinance Points to Note in Handling Appointment Matters (Private) P.5 and Regulations, the Employment Ordinance, and other relevant ordinances such as the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, the Disability Discrimination Ordinance, the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance and Race Discrimination Ordinance”. Aided schools are subject to the Education and Manpower Bureau Circular. All teachers are covered under the 1995 Code for the Education Profession of Hong Kong, which gives them the right to “strive for a working environment conducive to his/her students’ mental and physical well-being".
Fee-setting: According to the 1971 Education Regulations (as amended in 2016), all fees levied by kindergartens and non-state schools must be approved by the Permanent Secretary, which has the authority to cancel or refuse a registration if the fees are excessive in relation to the institution’s operational costs and standard of education. If a kindergarten or non-state school wants to adjust or increase any of their fees, they are required to submit a fee revision application to the EDB with justification for the fee revision and gain official approval from the Permanent Secretary. Aided schools are prohibited from charging any fees.
Inspection: All kindergartens and non-state schools are subject to inspection by the Permanent Secretary and inspector of schools, which may enter and inspect an institution at any reasonable time to check that regulations are being complied with. Any person who hinders or obstructs this investigation is liable upon conviction to a fine of 250,000 HKD (32,246 USD) and imprisonment for 2 years.
Sanctions: If any school is found to not comply with the minimum standards or any provision of the Education Ordinance or Education Regulations is being contravened, the institution’s registration certificate may be cancelled and/or the school may be suspended.
Supplementary private tuition in the Hong Kong SAR has scaled up rapidly, with a projected market sale of 4.3 billion HKD (54.6 million USD) in 2015/16. According to a study conducted in 2011/12, 53.8% of Grade 9 students and 71.8% of Grade 12 students reported receiving private tuition, driven by high-stakes examinations. The types of private tutoring provided in the region vary between small groups, one-on-one lessons, lectures (live or video-recorded), and online tutoring. Since the four core examination subjects for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education are mathematics, English, Chinese and General Studies, the first three subjects are the greatest in demand for private tutoring.
Tutorial centers in the Hong Kong SAR are defined as “private schools offering non-formal curriculum”, and are required to be registered under the 1971 Education Ordinance (similar to regular non-state schools). To be considered for registration by the Permanent Secretary for Education, the establishment must provide lessons to 8 students at one time, or 20 students in one day and have a maximum class size of 45 students.
According to the 2007 Education (Exemption) (Private Schools Offering Non-Formal Curriculum) Order, while these centres are regarded as a different form of “private schools”, they are granted exemption from certain provisions in the 1971 Education Ordinance and the 1971 Education Regulations in relation to fees, teachers, and holidays (subject to certain conditions). These exemptions are granted provided that the centre exclusively offers non-formal curriculum courses (such as computer, language, or tutorial), with centres offering any formal curriculum course being subject to provisions applying to regular non-state schools.
According to the 2007 Exemption Order, centres are not required to seek approval from the Permanent Secretary for any fees levied or the qualifications of teachers employed. However, any teacher employed in a private tuition centre must be registered under the Teacher Registration Team of the EDB or (in the case of non-locals) the Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation.
To ensure transparency and quality in the sector, the government posts a list of registered and unregistered centres on its website, while convictions are made when the provisions in the 2007 Exemption Order, 1971 Education Ordinance or the 1971 Education Regulations have not been met. If any centre does not meet the conditions listed for exempted institutions, it will not be entitled to the exemptions and will be required to comply with all the regulations applying to non-state schools.
The 1995 Code for the Education Profession states that a teacher “shall not take advantage of his/her professional relationships with students for private gain” (applying to all teachers), but has no explicit reference to private tutoring. In the 1960 Post Secondary Colleges Regulations, teachers in non-state colleges are prohibited from engaging in any “outside practice for reward” without the prior consent of the College Council.