1. Terminology

2. Technology laws, policies, plans and regulations

2.1. Education technology legislative and policy framework

2.2. Technology infrastructures, technological capacity of schools and learning environments

2.3. Technology competencies of learners and teachers

2.4. Cybersecurity and safety

3. Governance

3.1. Institutions in charge of technology in education and coordination mechanisms

3.2. Roles of schools


1. Terminology

The Education Bureau mainly uses the terms ‘information and communication technologies’ (ICTs), ‘information literacy’ (IL) and ‘information technology’ (IT) in education strategy documents and frameworks. The term education technology (EdTech) is not used in government documents.  

The 2015 Fourth Strategy on Information Technology (IT) in Education (ITE4) defines e-Learning as “an open and flexible learning mode involving the use of the electronic media, including use of digital resources and communication tools to achieve learning objectives. The essence of e-learning is the use of technology to deliver learning content more effectively and the learning process in e-learning environment is expected to consider three key elements for maximising learning opportunities conducive to 21st century skills development. They include blending formal and informal learning approaches, balancing individualised and collaborative learning to help learners to increase awareness of learning achievement and collecting evidence of improvement”. 

Information literacy is defined as  “the adoption of appropriate information behaviour to identify, through whatever channel or medium, information well fitted to information needs, leading to wise and ethical use of information in society”. 


2. Technology laws, policies, plans and regulations

2.1. Education technology legislative and policy framework

Constitution and laws: The 26/1990 Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China stipulates that the Government of the Hong Kong SAR shall, on its own, formulate policies on science and technology and protect by law achievements in scientific and technological research…(and) decide on the scientific and technological standards and specifications applicable in Hong Kong” (Article 139). The Law additionally states that the Government “shall provide an economic and legal environment for encouraging investments, technological progress and the development of new industries” (Article 118). 

The 1971 Education Ordinance (as amended in 2021) include as part of its definition of a ‘school’, an educational course by any means, including “correspondence delivered by hand or through the postal services”.  

The 1963 Telecommunications Ordinance (as amended in 2012) sets the universal service obligations (Article 35B). Universal service obligations mainly cover basic fixed voice telephony services and public payphones, with broadband or mobile services not covered under universal service. 

Policies, plans and strategies: Since 1998, the Education Bureu (EDB) has introduced a series of strategies on Information Technology (IT) in Education to facilitate the incorporation of IT in learning and teaching systems. The Education Bureau has additionally been conducting a Survey on Information Technology in Education survey since the 2015/16 school year to obtain a holistic understanding of the implementation of IT in education in public schools.  

The 1998 First Strategy on IT in Education: Information Technology for Learning in a New Era Five-year Strategy focused on the provision of IT infrastructure comprising hardware facilities, networks and Internet connection for schools, in addition to launching a series of large-scale professional development programmes to enhance the IT competence of teachers. 

The 2004 Second Strategy on IT in Education: Empowering Learning and Teaching with IT aimed to enhance the capacities of students and teachers to use IT for learning and teaching with the provision of professional development programmes and e-learning resources. 

The Third Strategy on IT in Education: Right Strategy at the Right Time for the Right Task, published in 2008, focused on the human factor necessary for the integration of IT into learning and teaching and the appropriate use of IT. Schools were empowered to formulate school-based ITE development plans on deploying digital learning resources and IT-related pedagogies appropriately, to cultivate students’ information literacy for effective, ethical and legal use of information in the e-learning world, and to encourage parents to become effective facilitators of their children’s e-learning in the home environment. 

The 2015 Fourth Strategy on IT in Education: Realising IT Potential, Unleashing Learning Power, which was developed based on a 2014 consultation document, aims to strengthen students’ self-directed learning, problem-solving, collaboration and computational thinking competency, enhance their creativity and innovation, and even entrepreneurship, as well as to nurture students to become ethical users of IT for pursuing life-long learning and whole-person development through leveraging technology and the capacity of IT. 

The government has additionally developed a series of IT learning frameworks, known as the "Information Literacy for Hong Kong Students"  learning framework, that provide suggestions on how to develop students’ knowledge, skills and attitudes to use information and information technology ethically and effectively as responsible citizens and lifelong learners. These are based on the 2000 Information Technology Learning Targets, which provided a guideline for schools to organise teaching and learning activities to develop students’ capability in using IT. The first Information Literacy Framework for Hong Kong Students was published in 2005, followed by the 2018 "Information Literacy for Hong Kong Students" learning framework and the 2022 Information Literacy for Hong Kong Students Learning Framework (updated version).  The government has additionally developed the 2010 Development of Evaluation Tools for Assessing Students’ Information Literacy and Promoting Information Literacy among Students.  

The vision of the Innovation and Technology Development Blueprint is to develop Hong Kong into an international innovation and technology centre, with specific objectives to promote science and technology education for all.  

The Education Bureau’s 2022 Policy Address strongly supports Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Education, e-learning, and the use information technology to improve services in line with the “Smart Government” strategy.  

The Hong Kong Smart City Blueprint 2.0 supports organised trainings on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and enhanced IT training to secondary school students. 

The 2007 Digital 21 Strategy is the blueprint for the development of information and communications technology (ICT) in Hong Kong, with reference to education, knowledge creation and sharing.   

Digital competency frameworks: Technology competencies are included as part of the Teacher Competencies Framework in the 2022 Guidelines on Teachers’ Professional Conduct, while there are specified student digital competency standards set in the Information Technology Learning Targets and information literacy learning frameworks.  

The Education Bureau additionally assists the ICT industry in implementing a Qualifications Framework with the aim of promoting lifelong learning and professionalism, with specific Digital Media Technology competency standards for citizens. The Information and Communications Technology Industry Digital Media Technology: Specification of Competency Standards mainly comprise the competency standards required at various levels of the Hong Kong Qualifications Framework. These competency standards represent the industry benchmarks for the skills, knowledge and attributes required to perform a job at a certain level.  

Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: Following the outbreak of COVID-19, e-Learning and IT infrastructure in schools was further enhanced, building upon the strong foundation of IT in Education strategies throughout the years.

2.2. Technology infrastructures, technological capacity of schools and learning environments

2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools

The series of strategies on IT in Education have focused on building and enhancing school IT infrastructure throughout the years, starting with the First Strategy on IT in Education: Information Technology for Learning in a New Era Five-year Strategy in 1998 that focused on the provision of IT infrastructure comprising hardware facilities, networks and Internet connection for schools.  

Electricity: The 1990 Electricity Ordinance (as amended in 2020) regulates electricity supply in Hong Kong, with no explicit mention of schools. The Education Bureau Circular No. 4/2017 on Environmental Policy and Energy Saving Measures in Schools urges schools to formulate a school-based environmental policy and implement measures for energy saving, which aims to enhance students’ environmental awareness, develop their environmentally friendly attitude, and promote green practices and environmental education to prepare students for making well-informed, justifiable and practical decisions and taking actions in response to the impact of climate change. 

The Education Bureau Circular Memorandum No. 168/2019 on the Participation of Schools in Feed-in Tariff Scheme further encourages schools to install renewable energy systems on the school premises subject to the conditions that the activities and safety of students will not be jeopardized by such installation. “Green Schools 2.0 - Energy Smart” is a Government programme with various initiatives to foster an environment where teachers and staff can cultivate a positive and green school culture by adopting energy efficient systems and innovative technologies that would be coupled with environmental education programme to encourage the development of environmentally awareness. 

Computers and devices: The 2015 Fourth Strategy on IT in Education aims to disburse a one-off grant for schools to acquire mobile computing devices and continue promoting Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. According to the strategy, BYOD refers to the practice of allowing students/teachers to bring personally owned mobile computing devices to schools for learning and teaching activities, and is often accompanied by Acceptable Use Policies, which include acceptable practices to be performed using the personal mobile devices in schools. Schools should have the flexibility in implementing BYOD at their own pace and according to their own contexts and can make use of the government’s recurrent subsidy to replace the devices or address other e-learning requirements as appropriate. To further support schools to formulate effective strategies on adopting BYOD, the Education Bureau aims to work with different stakeholders such as non-government organisations, teachers, parents and other Government Departments, etc., to help schools address various implementation issues.  

The Office of the Government Chief Information Officers has additionally been providing support for students of low-income families via two service providers to procure computer equipment at economical prices under the Internet Learning Support Programme. For selected groups of students with particular educational needs (e.g. students with special education needs and non-Chinese speaking students), schools may also leverage community resources such as the Quality Education Fund to provide a mobile learning environment for all. 

To further support schools in implementing a blended mode of learning and teaching, the Quality Education Fund has implemented a three-year funding programme starting from the 2021/22 school year, to subsidise public primary and secondary schools (including special schools), in accordance with the Education Bureau Circular Memorandum No. 63/2021 and Education Bureau Circular Memorandum No. 86/2022 Quality Education Fund e-Learning Funding Programme: Provision of Mobile Computer Devices and Internet Services Support. Direct Subsidy Scheme schools could also apply for funding to purchase mobile computing devices for loan to needy students and to provide portable WiFi routers and mobile data cards to students who do not have access to appropriate Internet services due to the constraints in their living environment.  

Internet connectivity: The 2015 Fourth Strategy on IT in Education supports the enhancement of school IT infrastructure through the provision of a robust WiFi campus for all public schools. Schools are supported through recurrent government subsidies, while students of low-income families may procure internet access services at economical prices under the Internet Learning Support Programme.  

The Education Bureau has been providing schools with recurrent funding to support the enhancement of internet connectivity. Schools have been provided with a recurrent Composite Information Technology Grant since the 2004/05 school year as a source of ongoing funding to meet their operational needs for information technology in education. The Education Bureau Circular No. 13/2020 on the Composite Information Technology Grant was disbursed as an Extra Recurrent Grant for schools to pay for the on-going expenditures in setting up an appropriate WiFi environment for e-learning.  The Support Scheme for e-Learning in Schools aims to provide funding for public schools to enhance their WiFi infrastructure to cater for the need of using e-textbooks and e-learning resources in class.  The funding will also allow schools to acquire mobile computing devices sufficient for use in class by students. In the 2020/21 school year, the Education Bureau provided an additional one-off Top-up Grant for Supporting Online Learning of Financially Needy Students to all government, aided (including special schools), caput schools and schools under the Direct Subsidy Scheme for supporting financially primary and secondary students who were unable to acquire appropriate Internet services due to their living environment (EDBCM No. 169/2020).  

2.2.2. Technology and learning environments

E-Learning has been supported in several government strategies, including the 2015 Fourth Strategy on IT in Education. 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. The Circular Memorandum 137/2020 on Learning and Teaching Resources in Support of Students’ Home Learning aims to inform schools about the variety of learning and teaching resources and reference materials developed by the Education Bureau for schools to support students’ home learning in e-learning modes. The Education Bureau continued using these resources after the pandemic and has developed several additional resources to support students, teachers and parents with e-Learning, such as the Reference principles for supporting students’ home learning with e-learning modes (August 2020) , Suspending Classes without Suspending Learning – e-Learning (2.4.2020), and E-learning keeps students connected.  

The Education Bureau’s Educational Multimedia website provides various types of learning and teaching resources, including short videos, animations and e-books, etc., to support students’ continuous online learning, while teachers can also gain access to suggestions for designing e-Learning and assessment tasks from the Bureau’s One-stop Portal for Learning and Teaching Resources.  

The Education Bureau’s 2022 Policy Address aims to further support schools and teachers in implementing the blended mode of learning and teaching, with the Education Bureau continuing to implement the “Quality Education Fund e-Learning Funding Programme: Provision of Mobile Computer Devices and Internet Services Support”.  

2.3. Technology competencies of learners and teachers

2.3.1. Learners

The main objective of the 2015 Fourth Strategy on IT in Education is to strengthen students’ digital literacy, self-directed learning, collaboration, problem-solving, and computational thinking competency as well as creative and innovative thinking skills, with proficiency in IT skills being one of the Seven Learning Goals in Hong Kong’s curriculum reform. These mainly aim to be implemented through the application of IT skills across school curricula, within the Technology Education Key Learning Area curriculum at the lower secondary level and the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) subject at the upper secondary level. Technology Education is a key learning area within the School Curriculum Framework.  

In 2000, the Information Technology Learning Targets were developed to serve as the guidelines for schools to organise IT learning and teaching activities. These were then reviewed with the development of the 2018 Information Literacy for Hong Kong Students” Learning Framework which aims to help schools understand how to develop students’ Information Literacy at different key stages and use information effectively and ethically. The 2022 Information Literacy for Hong Kong Students Learning Framework  (updated version) further strengthens learning goals in Information Evaluation, Cyberbullying Prevention, Personal Data Privacy Protection and Internet Addiction Prevention. Key topics of information literacy include Information Searching and Organising; Information evaluation; Personal data privacy; Health issues; Cyberbullying; Internet Addition; Intellectual property rights; and Emerging and advanced information technologies.  

Hong Kong students’ information literacy capabilities are encompassed though nine competency areas in developing students’ knowledge, skills and attitudes (which are detailed by education level): 1) Use, provide and communicate information effectively, ethically and responsibly; 2) Identify and define a need for information, 3) Locate and access relevant information, 4) Evaluate information, media content and information sources/providers, 5) Extract and organise information, create and present new ideas, 6) Apply IT skills to process information and produce user-generated content, and adopt a reflective mindset when sharing information, 7) Recognise the roles and functions of information providers in society, 8) Recognise the conditions under which reliable information could be obtained, and 9) Recognise the ethical issues arising from the application of emerging and advanced information technologies.  

For information on the learning of knowledge and skills in IT-related subjects, schools may additionally refer to technology curriculum documents such as the 2017 Technology Education Key Learning Area Curriculum Guide (Primary 1 - Secondary 6) and the 2020 Computational Thinking – Coding Education: Supplement to the Primary Curriculum (Primary). The strategies highlight that home-school cooperation is indispensable in nurturing students’ capability in Information Literacy, with schools and parents required to maintain close communication to effectively defend against cyberbullying, protect personal data privacy, prevent Internet addiction, etc. 

The Government has strived to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education within and beyond the classroom throughout the years. The Education Bureau’s 2022 Policy Address aims to step up promotion of Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, Mathematics (STEAM) education “for all”, “for fun” and “for diversity” in primary and secondary schools to build in students a solid foundation in science, technology and mathematics and equip them with the 21st century competencies. Specific objectives include implementing coding education and incorporating learning elements of Information Technology (e.g. Artificial Intelligence) in the relevant curricula at the upper primary and lower secondary levels, designating a STEAM co-ordinator in all publicly-funded schools,  arranging the STEAM co-ordinator/teachers to undergo core professional development training on Information and Technology, and organising or participating in quality STEAM activities of reasonable scale at the school, inter-school, territory-wide or international level. The 2015 Fourth Strategy on IT in Education also supports Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, while the Innovation and Technology Development Blueprint aims to further promote STEM education in primary and secondary schools through measures like curriculum enrichment, enhanced teacher training and diversified learning activities. The Education Bureau’s 2016 Report on the Promotion of STEM Education further promotes STEM education in schools. However, none of these documents explicitly include a gender component or strategy.  

2.3.2. Teachers

The Teacher Competencies Framework is outlined as part of the 2022 Guidelines on Teachers’ Professional Conduct and includes teaching strategies and skills in the use of multi-media. Specific multi-media competencies include the flexible employment of a wide range of adaptive approaches and technologies to motivate and enhance student learning; demonstration of great flexibility and responsiveness; and the continuous expansion of teaching methods and technologies to match students’ level of intelligence and interest. The T-standard: Professional Standards for Teachers of Hong Kong incorporates a unified set of standards for the teaching profession. 

The existing framework of information technology (IT) training of teachers in Hong Kong with training programmes at Basic, Upper Intermediate, and Advanced Levels, was originally launched under the 1998 First Strategy on IT in Education: Information Technology for Learning in a New Era Five-year Strategy and 2000 Information Technology Learning Targets and further strengthened in the following strategies. One of the action plans of the 2015 Fourth Strategy on IT in Education is to enhance the professional development of teachers in information literacy, the use of IT for the enhancement of teaching and learning, and the development of self-directed learning, collaboration and problem-solving skills respectively with various IT-enhanced pedagogical approaches. 

The Education Bureau has additionally been providing teachers with IT-related professional development programmes, seminars and workshops on e-Learning, and information kits on e-learning and e-safety such as the Self-Learning Videos for Teachers on IT Tips for e-Learning (including IT in Education e-leadership, pedagogical and e-safety series), in addition to providing seminars for parents. Professional development programs include the IT in Education Information Literacy Series: Supporting Parents on e-Learning; Intellectual Property and the Related Ethical Issues in Emerging and Advanced IT; and Planning, Implementation and Evaluation of School-based IL Curriculum in Whole-School Approach.  

To equip teachers for handling school bullying (including cyberbullying), the EDB commissions tertiary institutions to organise certificate courses on student guidance and discipline for teachers of primary and secondary schools with “school bullying” as a compulsory component. In addition, the EDB regularly conducts relevant seminars/sharing sessions on topics such as handling students’ emotional and behavioural problems, conflict resolution and mediation skills, nurturing a positive school climate and effective communication with parents for teachers, guidance personnel and school social workers, so as to enhance their capability of preventing and handling bullying acts in schools.  

2.4. Cybersecurity and safety

2.4.1. Data privacy

The 1996 Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (as amended in 2021) consolidates the legal framework concerning privacy, data protection and cyber security in Hong Kong. Organisations (including schools) that collect, hold, process or use personal data are known as ‘data users’ and must comply with the Ordinance. Schools are explicitly required to comply with the Ordinance, with the Education Bureau stating that schools should respect the privacy of students and parents, strictly adhere to Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance and develop school policies on confidentiality when collecting, storing, using and transmitting personal data that ensure the proper maintenance and handling of students’ and parents’ personal data. The 2015 Fourth Strategy on IT in Education further clarifies that users of student data have to strictly comply with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance in Hong Kong. According to the Education Bureau’s 2022 Statement of Privacy Policies and Practices, “the protection of privacy in relation to personal data is the concern of every member of staff in the Education Bureau. We respect personal data and are fully committed to implementing and complying with the data protection principles and all relevant provisions of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance and codes of practice issued by the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data”. 

In 2020, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data additionally released Guidelines on Children’s Privacy during the Pandemic, which specifically focus on the various video conferencing software and online learning platforms used by schools and parents which may result in collection of personal data of individuals. In 2022, with the commencement of the 2021 Personal Data (Privacy) (Amendment) Ordinance, the Privacy Commissioner explained the application of the Ordinance to school principals. The Privacy Commissioner also elaborated on how to comply with the requirements of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance in the context of school management, and gave advice on the collection of personal data of teachers, staff and students during the COVID-19 Pandemic and the protection of children’s privacy online. 

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) has further developed several guides and resources, such as the Children Online Privacy: Practical Tips for Parents and Teachers; Protecting Privacy: Using Computers and the Internet Wisely; and Protecting Online Privacy: Be Smart on Social Networks. There is also a  

children privacy website and published list of Data protection principles. The PCPD has additionally launched a short video competition for primary school students themed “Respecting Privacy Begins with Me”, which aims to raise children’s awareness of respecting and protecting personal data privacy through producing videos.  

2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying

While there is no specified criminal offence in Hong Kong targeting cyber bullying, the Education Bureau adopts a zero tolerance policy on school bullying (published in 2019) where any bullying act, no matter in whatever forms (including cyber-bullying) or on whatever grounds (including poverty, race, special educational needs and sexual orientation), is unacceptable. Schools are required to implement proactive measures to ensure the safety of students at school, raise awareness of anti-bullying, and handle bullying incidents in schools in an appropriate manner in accordance with the EDB’s circulars, guidelines and training. As set out in the guidelines on handling of bullying cases in the School Administration Guide, schools are advised to adopt a Whole School Approach in formulating and implementing anti-bullying strategies, including a clear stance on zero tolerance, reporting mechanism and handling procedures, highly transparent monitoring and handling each school bullying incident proactively and seriously. The School Administration Guide and circulars issued by the EDB lay down the principles of handling school bullying, as well as the relevant procedures, methods and follow-up actions clearly. At the same time, schools should take education, guidance and protection of their students as the prime concern when handling school bullying. Regarding the reporting mechanism, all school staff are required to report to the school management or the responsible team when any bullying case is known to them. If the cases are of a more serious nature (e.g. teachers being the bullies, incidents involving brutal violence, injuries or deaths, etc.), schools should notify the EDB.  

To further support schools in implementing the anti-bullying measures, the EDB has produced three resource packages (uploaded on the EDB website) on the prevention of school bullying, namely “Co-creating a Harmonious School”, “Co-creating a Harmonious School - Stop Bullying”, and “Co-creating a Harmonious School - Anti-bullying Day/Week”. Several resources are also available to students, teachers and parents on cyberbullying, including the cyber security information portal, cybersecurity in schools tips, video clips on cybersafety, and information on cyber-bullying: what you need to know. The Student Health Service of the Department of Health has also published resources on the Healthy Use of Internet and Electronic Screen Products, which includes resources on cyberbullying, with specific recommentations for students, teachers and parents.  

According to the Education Bureau Circular Memorandum No. 157/2022 on the Healthy Use of the Internet, the Hong Kong Playground Association was commissioned to provide support services on promoting e-safety to teachers, students and parents of all primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong, which includes Internet addiction, cyber-bullying and Internet traps.  


3. Governance

3.1. Institutions in charge of technology in education and coordination mechanisms

The Education Bureau (EDB), which is responsible for formulating, developing and reviewing policies, programmes and legislation in respect of education from pre-primary to tertiary level, has two sections responsible for technology in education: the Information Technology in Education Section and the Information Technology Management Division. The EDB is exclusively responsible for the integration of technology in education in the Hong Kong SAR.  

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD), an independent statutory body, was established to oversee the enforcement of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance. The PCPD issues various codes of practice and guidelines to provide organisations with practical guidance to comply with the Ordinance.  

3.2. Roles of schools

The Education Bureau does not have specific guidelines on mobile phone use in classrooms, with schools responsible for developing their own policies on mobile phone use. At the central level, the 2015 Fourth Strategy on IT in Education promotes bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies.  

Last modified:

Mon, 22/05/2023 - 07:51