My questions to the Chief Executive’s upcoming policy address

Winne Tang Hong Kong’s Chief Executive (CE) Carrie Lam is expected to release her maiden Policy Address in October. IT is increasingly important for our economic development. As a practitioner within the industry, I anticipate our new CE to answer the following IT-related policies and questions.  

1. AI-related and coding education

While our CE is fulfilling her promise from the election campaign to allocate additional HK$5 billion for education, what is her next step to strengthen training of innovation and technology talent here in Hong Kong?

The development of artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to be Chinese government’s top priority, according to the July issued document of the Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan (“Next Gen AI Plan”). The document outlined the goal for China to become a global innovation center in AI by 2030. The Chinese government is well aware of the country’s improvement areas in research and development, human resources and the industrial ecosystem.

To align with this goal, the country’s primary, secondary curriculum and even in tertiary education is expected to introduce courses related to AI and coding, starting in September this year. This ambitious plan includes offering at least one-hour science lesson weekly for students from primary one and two. More AI skills training courses available in tertiary institutions and an increase number of seats for master and doctorate degree in AI related discipline will be available.

The focus in AI and technology is not limited in China. Thirteen European countries—Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Portugal and Turkey— have geared up to technology training for their younger generation. They aimed to develop students’ logical thinking skills and problem-solving skills through information and communication technology.

In Finland and Portugal, specific goals, like raising student achievement and boosting their interest in mathematics, were set as part of the initiative.  Another 11 countries have also recently concluded a curricula reform to include ICT and related concepts.

As for students in Hong Kong, with the HK$5 billion additional funding, I would expect improvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, like introducing coding as a subject in the formal curriculum of primary and secondary schools as soon as possible.

Boosting STEM education locally is also a suggestion shared by Lap-Chee Tsui, former President of the University of Hong Kong. He recently criticized the university's admission requirements focus only on the results of four core subjects, which had set back students' interest in other basic science and advanced mathematics subjects. This is hindering the development of local talents in technologies.

I hope the Policy Address will consider views from various stakeholders and address our shortcoming in training talents.