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Newsletter for international Higher Education Sector on the update of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education - Issue 1

Welcome to the first issue of HKDSE Newsletter. This is a newsletter published by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA), which is an independent statutory institution responsible for the development and administration of public examinations in Hong Kong. It will be issued every six months to keep the international Higher Education Sector informed about the development of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE), a new qualification for Hong Kong students to be introduced in 2012.

We invite you to forward this newsletter to those who may be interested or send us their names and emails for inclusion in the distribution list.

If you wish to make any comments or if you have any questions, please write to
Rebecca Tam, International Recognition Officer (rtam@hkeaa.edu.hk).

In this issue, the following will be covered:

 The Changing Education System in Hong Kong
 An Overview of HKDSE
 Connecting with International Higher Education Sector

     The Changing Education System in Hong Kong       

Major reforms have been made to the education system of Hong Kong since 2000. The scope of the reform covers the academic structure, the curricula and the assessment frameworks for primary and secondary schools as well as the admission systems for different stages of education.


These education reforms will enter their crucial phase with the implementation of the new senior secondary structure in September 2009. With the 334 structure in place, (3 years junior secondary, 3 years senior secondary and 4 years undergraduate programme) the first group of secondary school leavers will sit the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) examination in 2012.

Developed by the HKEAA, the HKDSE will replace both the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE), currently taken by secondary students after Secondary 7, and the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE), taken after Secondary 5. This new qualification will be awarded after six years of secondary study for students to pursue further study or employment.

Introduction of HKDSE
     An Overview of HKDSE       

The HKDSE is developed in collaboration with the Education Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region and the HKEAA is responsible for the formulation of examination syllabuses, the setting and maintenance of standards, the administration of the examinations as well as the reporting of results.

Under the new secondary curriculum there will be three different categories of subjects:

Category A :
24 new senior secondary subjects, comprising four core subjects and twenty elective subjects. The four core subjects are Chinese Language, English Language, Liberal Studies and Mathematics.

Category B:
Applied Learning subjects designed to enable students to understand fundamental theories and concepts through application and practice and to develop their generic skills in authentic work contexts.

Category C:
Other Language subjects- French, German, Hindi, Japanese, Spanish and Urdu.

Students will sit the HKDSE examinations at the end of their three-year senior secondary course and they may take up to a maximum of 8 subjects.

Curriculum and Assessment Guides

Following a series of public consultations, the Curriculum and Assessment Guides for the 24 subjects in the New Senior Secondary curriculum were finalized in early 2008. During the consultation process, these curriculum and assessment guides were sent to various international organizations based in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands for international benchmarking. Positive feedback was received and their suggestions were incorporated into the revised guides.

The Curriculum and Assessment Guides, which are available on the HKEAA website www.hkeaa.edu.hk, provide useful information on the structure, content and assessment of the 24 subjects.

Sample papers and level descriptors

For each of the 24 subjects, sample papers have been developed and pilot tests have been conducted with these sample papers. Level descriptors and exemplar materials have been prepared by making reference to the performance of students in the pilot tests and the performance of candidates in the corresponding HKALE and HKCEE examinations. It is expected that preparation of draft level descriptors and exemplar materials will be completed by the end of 2008.

The draft sample papers and level descriptors can be downloaded from http://www.hkeaa.edu.hk/en/hkdse/Subject_Information/

     Connecting with International Higher Education Sector       

The HKEAA website (www.hkeaa.edu.hk) has been redesigned and was launched with a new look in October 2008. Besides providing comprehensive information and updates on the reforms in examinations and assessment, it is also a gateway to useful information catering for the needs of different stakeholders.

To keep our stakeholders informed of the development of HKDSE and standards of Hong Kong's public examinations including HKCEE and HKALE, there are two special sections on HKDSE and International Recognition to house all the latest updates and documents related to these public examinations.

The HKDSE section gives details of the new examination including subject information and components of assessment. The International Recognition section enables stakeholders, including candidates and parents, to access information on the standards of HKEAA qualifications with reference to the benchmarking of levels to other international examinations.

Responses from universities in different countries on their entry requirements with respect to HKCEE and HKALE qualifications are also listed in the section of International Recognition section, serving as an important source of information for students in planning their further studies. Institutions that recognize HKEAA qualifications are invited to post their admission requirements on our website to make them known to Hong Kong students who are planning to further their studies abroad.

For issues related to HKEAA qualifications and recognition, please contact:


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