The coordinator of the Policy Research Office, Lao Pun Lap, yesterday stressed the relevance of the culture and education sectors to Macau. “They are almost a business card of the city,” said Lao during the third consultation session over the region’s five-year development plan, which includes measures that would be developed between 2015 and 2019.
The session, which was held yesterday at the Lotus Room of the Macau World Trade Center, was attended by representatives from the culture and education sector.
Lao reviewed the plan’s proposals related to the sector that he classified as “very important” for the ultimate goal of transforming Macau into “one center and one platform.”
The coordinator expressed that Macau will be able to achieve the goals set for it by Beijing due to its diverse culture. “We can’t forget the mixed culture that has made Macau able to assume its important role as a platform,” he said.
Lao pointed out that Macau is in need of “more qualified professionals” to help to establish an extensive range of “large-scale events, which will happen more and more in the future.”
Talking specifically about the education sector, Lao said that the government would “launch self-assessment mechanisms for schools” as well as projects for “innovation within technical education” and an “upgrade to special needs and back-to-school education programs.”
The government is also aiming to reach 2020 with 80 percent of schools within the free education system and a secondary school completion rate of about 90 percent, the coordinator mentioned.
Ho Siu Kam, a member of the non-tertiary education council, expressed a few concerns, namely a lack of legislation related to special and professional education. “It seems like the government doesn’t implement rules, just slogans,” she said.
Another of the Ho’s concerns was related to the so-called “Blue-sky Project,” a project presented by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture in November last year that aims to move schools from residential building complexes to “more appropriate locations.” The member of the non-tertiary education council expressed surprise over the fact that the project, which had previously been considered a priority by the secretary, “seems not to be discussed in the [five-year] plan.”
Mr Ko, another member of the council, said that “there is a need to improve the training and education of teachers, especially those occupying school management positions.”
Ko also added that due to the lack of available space for sports and cultural activities outside schools, the government should “incentivize schools to remain open until late in order to provide support to their students through extra-curricular activities.”
Dr Hsu Hsiu-Chu, the director of the School of Arts at the Macao Polytechnic Institute, commented that “Macau is always talking about diversification [of the economy] but there are already many projects that are lacking in financial resources,” she said, adding, “I think we need to concentrate on a few areas to support, both in education and in these [creative] industries, since the resources look short for both.”
Dr Hsu also recalled that there “are very few schools that teach arts and crafts.” However, Fu Lam Kam, another member of the non-tertiary education council, believes that, contrary to what is being claimed, there is a disinvestment from the government in the education sector. “The financial resources have been slowing down. In 2014, growth was at 8 percent and in 2015, only 3 percent,” he said, stating that the idea that education is priority for the government “can’t be seen in reality.”
A member of the Cultural Heritage Council surnamed Cheng said that “with the development of the gaming industry, Macau lost its roots,” adding, “Macau is a coastal city and has always faced the sea.”
On the topic of “lost roots” Cheng also believes that “Macau needs to remember the historical people that were very important for the development of the territory, both Chinese and Portuguese.”
canidrome venue could support school activities
“The Canidrome venue could be used for more activities by our schools,” suggested Ho Siu Kam, a member of the non-tertiary education council. Ho expanded on the idea expressed by other participants that Macau needs to “give more space” to schools and student activities.