Overseen by the Hong Kong Education Bureau, the education system in Hong Kong is well-developed to serve both local and international students. The Hong Kong government provides 12-years of free education through public primary, junior secondary, and senior secondary schools while only primary and junior secondary education are mandatory.
Kindergarten in Hong Kong
Kindergartens in Hong Kong, also known as pre-primary education, aim at enhancing children’s physical, intellectual, and social development at an early stage. Children aged from 3 - 6 can attend kindergartens thought it is not mandatory. The Hong Kong government has placed more emphasis on early childhood education in recent years and provide free subsidies to all eligible students who attend classes in qualifying local non-profit kindergartens.
Primary Education and Secondary Education
Children aged 6 or above are must attend compulsory primary school for 6 years. Primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong are divided into 2 types: local schools and international schools.
For local primary schools, the 3 modes of operation are AM, PM, and whole-day, with the 2 preceding modes gradually changing to a whole-day basis. The majority of local schools are Chinese medium of instruction (CMI) with English as a second instruction language. A wide range of subjects, including English, Mathematics, and Arts, are covered in the primary curriculum. Students need to sit for 3 examinations in Primary 5 and 6 in order to determine which secondary schools they may attend.
After graduation from primary school, students receive 3 years of junior secondary education, followed by another 3 years of senior secondary education. More than one-fourth of the local secondary schools are English medium of instruction (EMI) while the rest are Chinese medium of instruction.
Junior secondary education, namely secondary 1-3, is compulsory for all students. While they do not need to choose specific areas of study due to broad learning goals, students who proceed to senior secondary education need to prepare for public examinations. The Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) is a city-wide exam held at the end of Secondary 6 that covers the 4 core subjects of English, Mathematics, Chinese and Liberal Studies. The 4 core subjects are compulsory for all students taking university entrance examination. In addition, students also need to choose 2 or 3 elective subjects from a choice of 20.
The English Schools Foundation is the largest English education institution in the city for kindergarteners to Year 13 students. Subsidized by the Hong Kong Government, the foundation is running 22 international schools currently, with preference given to non-Chinese speakers. Their schools are delineated based on location and only accept students who reside in corresponding geographical zones.
There are a number of private international schools in Hong Kong that are well-funded through tuition and debenture systems. These international schools in Hong Kong are mostly country-specific and teach a syllabus from their respective countries in which many of them adopt English-based curriculum and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. Parents focused on sending children overseas for university makes international schools very popular and admission can be very competitive in Hong Kong. Students frequently also take the SAT and IETLS in order to be admitted to an overseas university.
There are 9 highly competitive universities and a number of other tertiary institutions in Hong Kong, all of which offer places for both local and expat students. All these institutions offer a wide range of programmes, including High Diplomas, Associate Degrees, undergraduate and post-graduate degrees.
The undergraduate programmes offered by the 9 universities in Hong Kong are all 4-year courses. Since the number of undergraduate positions are insufficient to accept all students who fulfill the minimum requirements of admissions, studying an Associate Degree or a Higher Diploma then becomes a popular fallback choice.