Hong Kong: A multilingual education jewel
For 155 years, Hong Kong, until the handover in 1997, was a colony of Great Britain. With over 7 million people now living in a small area, it is one of the world's most densely populated places and has one of the world's most open and dynamic economies. Hong Kong is a vibrant city, which has embraced high and information technology. It is famous for its smart Octopus card, which can be used for the various types of transport such as buses, trains and subways - as well as stores such as Starbucks and 7-Eleven. Over 90 per cent of its students complete secondary education and roughly 25 per cent of the adult population has had at least some post-secondary education, reflecting Hong Kong's status as a knowledge economy. It has 10 universities. On April 11, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (London) were released. Four Hong Kong universities were ranked among the top 20 in Asia and two were ranked in the top 10 (University of Hong Kong, 3rd and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 9th). The University of Hong Kong was ranked number 35 globally. I have visited Hong Kong several times, both before and after the handover. The concept of "One Country, Two Systems" is indeed working well. In nearly all respects Hong Kong "behaves" as a country. It has its own currency, its own stamps, its own flag, its own visa and immigration rules, trade policies, and its own system of governance. Both before and after the handover, there have been many educational reform initiatives in Hong Kong. Some of these were largely rhetoric while others have contributed to the reputation and success of its education. In 2007, McKenzie & Company identified Hong Kong as one of the world's top school systems. The earliest reforms during the 1960s and '70s emphasised quantitative expansion and access. In the '80s and '90s, there was a shift to improve quality. With the reforms of 2000 and beyond ("Education Blueprint for the 21st Century") the emphasis has been on preparing students for life-long learning in a rapidly changing knowledge economy.
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