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Social Welfare Department
|Secretary for Education|
Director of Social Welfare
|National education budget (2012/13)|
|Budget||$39,420 per capita|
|Primary languages||English and Cantonese Chinese|
|9-year Compulsory Education||September 1978:Chapter 1, Paragraph 1.1|
|Other Hong Kong topics|
|Hong Kong portal|
Education in Hong Kong is largely modelled on that of the United Kingdom, particularly the English system. It is overseen by the Education Bureau and the Social Welfare Department.
Small village Chinese schools were observed by the British missionaries when they arrived circa 1843. Anthony Sweeting believes those small village schools existed in Chek Chue (modern-day town of Stanley), Shek Pai Wan, Heung Kong Tsai (modern-day Aberdeen) and Wong Nai Chong on Hong Kong Island, although proofs are no longer available.
One of the earliest schools with reliable records was Li Ying College established in 1075 in present-day New Territories. By 1860 Hong Kong had 20 village schools. Chinese who were wealthy did not educate their children in Hong Kong, instead they sent them to major Chinese cities, such as Canton, for traditional Chinese education.
The changes came with the arrival of the British in 1841. At first Hong Kong's education came from Protestant and Catholic missionaries who provided social services. Italian missionaries began to provide boy-only education to British and Chinese youth in 1843.
By 1861 Frederick Stewart would become "The Founder of Hong Kong Education" for integrating a modern western-style education model into the Colonial Hong Kong school system,. In 1862, the first government school, Queen's College (then Government Central School) was set up, with Stewart serving as the first Headmaster.
One of the much contested debate was whether schools should offer Vernacular education, teaching in Chinese at all. Education was considered a luxury for the elite and the rich. The first school to open the floodgate of western medical practice to East Asia was the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese. The London Missionary Society and Sir James Cantlie started the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese in 1887 (although, the 'for Chinese' was later dropped from the name). In addition, the London Missionary Society founded Ying Wa Girls' School in 1900. Belilios Public School was a girls' secondary school founded in 1890 – the first government school in Hong Kong that provided bilingual education in English and Chinese. The push for Chinese education in a British system did not begin until the rise of social awareness of the Chinese community following the 1919 May Fourth Movement and 1934 New Life Movement in China. Educating the poor did not become a priority until they accounted for the majority of the population. Financial issues were addressed in the 1970s. A small group of South Asian Hong Kongers marched through Central demanding more schooling in the English language on 3 June 2007. In the 2013/14 school year, there are 569 primary schools, 514 secondary day schools and 61 special schools.