The Chinese Learning Framework for the Desegregation of Ethnic Minority Students in Hong Kong

 By Lana Miskulin

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Background: School Segregation in Hong Kong

3. The ‘Chinese as a Second Language Learning Framework’ as a Solution

3.1. Support Measures for Schools and Teachers

3.2. Support Measures for Students and Parents

4. Future Plans

5. Recommendations

6. Conclusion

7. References

8. Key Terms and Definitions

9. About the Author

1. Introduction

Sustainable Development Goal 10 of the United Nation’s2030 Agenda aims to reduce inequality within and among countries and one of its main targets is to ‘empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status,’ by 2030 (United Nations, 2017). It is, therefore, important for countries to analyze the issues that lead to discrimination in their settings and identify ways toward inclusive development in an appropriate manner. 

Around 6.4% of the Hong Kong population are ethnic minorities (Hong Kong 2011 Population Census Thematic Report: Ethnic Minorities, 2013), a large number being persons of school-going age who often face many restrictions in succeeding academically. One such restriction is the inability for non-Chinese speaking students (NCS) to adjust to the Hong Kong education system due to the language barrier which leads to school segregation (Kapai, 2015; Zhou, Cai, and Wang, 2016). 

The Hong Kong Education Bureau (EDB) has set out to eliminate school segregation by introducing The Chinese Language Curriculum Second Language Concerned Learning Frameworkwhich has been designed and implemented in primary and secondary schools as a way to ‘enabl[e] [non-Chinese speaking students to bridge over to mainstream Chinese Language classes’ (EDB, 2017). This entry discusses this framework to desegregate and integrate ethnic minorities in mainstream Hong Kong schools.

2. Background: School Segregation in Hong Kong

The term ‘ethnic minorities’ refers to persons who reported themselves being of non-Chinese ethnicity. Theyare shown in the Population Census sorted by ethnicity and presented in descending order of their sizes in 2011.

According to the Population Census (2011), among the ethnic minorities aged 5 and over, 44.2%  reported that English was the language most commonly spoken at home. English is followed by Cantonese (31.7%), Filipino (3.7%), Indonesian (3.6%), Japanese (2.2%), Putonghua (1.0%), and other Chinese dialects (other than Cantonese and Putonghua) (0.3%).

Based on these numbers, it is clear that more than half of the ethnic minority population did not speak Chinese (Cantonese) at home. This became a particular problem after the handover of Hong Kong to China when many schools in Hong Kong switched the medium of instruction from English to Chinese (Kapai, 2015; Law and Lee, 2012). After, NCS children of primary and secondary school age would often get placed in ‘designated schools’ that were set by the Education Bureau to focus on teaching minority students (Kapai, 2015; Law and Lee, 2012). Parents with better financial status would enroll their children into private schools with English as the medium of instruction or international schools which often do not prepare students for a future in Hong Kong due to their international curriculum (Groves and O'Connor, 2017). This led to school segregation, with Hong Kong Chinese and ethnic minorities studying separately in different schools and within different curricula.

The segregation of schooling of minorities from the majority has had a strong impact on development. The gap has led to discrimination and prejudice against minorities and deprived the Hong Kong community of the opportunity to function as a whole. For sustainable and inclusive development in Hong Kong changes needed to be made in education of ethnic minorities. The best way of achieving this has been by eliminating segregation, which would allow NCS students to be integrated into the local community and would provide local students with the opportunity to learn about cultures other than their own for understanding and peace between the communities.

The Hong Kong government has made progress towards school desegregation and integration of NCS students into public schools. A notable change was the removal of the label ‘designated schools’ in the school year 2013/2014 (Kapai, 2015). However, the schools that were ‘designated schools’ still had ethnic minority students as the majority of their school population. The removal of the label was a good start towards desegregation, although it also showed the need for further action towards integration. NCS students’ low level of Chinese  was identified as the biggest obstacle for their enrolment into public schools (EDB, 2008). To respond to this problem, in 2014/2015 the Hong Kong government implemented the ‘Chinese Language Curriculum Second Language Concerned Learning Framework.’

3. The ‘Chinese as a Second LanguageLearning Framework’ as a Solution

The framework aims to integrate NCS students into the mainstream education by creating a curriculum with Chinese as second language learning. This allows NCS students to participate in the same classes with Chinese-speaking students and learn to become independent in local mainstream classes. As such, this framework has been a step forward for Hong Kong and beneficial for ethnic minority students, their parents, and teachers.

Gao’s study on the identity of Chinese language teachers’ teaching South Asian students in Hong Kong shows mostly positive findings , with language teachers feeling successful when teaching NCS students and excited to learn about their students’ culture, religion, and customs (Gao, 2012). Ku, Chan, and Sandhu’s research report (as cited in Kapai, 2015) gives data from the students’ perspectives on their Chinese language teachers. The responses are generally positive on the matter of schools respecting their religious and cultural practices, although there are still issues with teachers’ attitudes towards ethnic minority students. As Figure 1 shows, for example, 30% of ethnic minority students feel that their teachers dislike teaching them and 31% feel that the teachers care more about their Chinese students.

Figure 1.  Students’ perception of teachers’ attitudes towards them (Ku, Chan & Sandhu, 2005, extracted from Kapai, 2015).

Figure 1. Students’ perception of teachers’ attitudes towards them (Ku, Chan & Sandhu, 2005, extracted from Kapai, 2015).

Nevertheless, these findings show that good foundations for the framework do exist; however, there is a need for careful monitoring of progress and for more focused teacher and student education about diversity and multiculturalism.

3.1. Support Measures for Schools and Teachers 

With the framework, the government aims to further education and training for Chinese teachers in methods of teaching Chinese as a second language. This training is provided through seminars and workshops for professional development and adjustment of the existing curricula to the NCS students’ needs (EDB, 2014, 2016). Schools are not allowed to adopt a Chinese Language curriculum with pre-set simpler contents and lower standards for their NCS students, which may be slightly over-restrictive and make the Chinese language learning less accessible to them (Kapai, 2015). 

Each school is eligible for financial support as long as it admits 10 or more NCS students or 6 or more for special schools that do not offer the ordinary school curriculum. The funding provided is to be used strictly for the NCS students and their integration into the local system. However, there have been reports of lack of an efficient system to monitor the use of funds which is affecting the equality of opportunities provided to ethnic minorities (Kapai, 2015).

3.2. Support Measures for Students and Parents

The framework aims to prepare NCS students to sit the examinations to attain the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) in the Chinese Language. This diploma enables them to continue their studies and professional development. An alternative is the Applied Chinese Learning course, offered in senior levels of secondary education, which aims to provide NCS students with practical Chinese for daily life and employment and is recognized as “Attained” and “Attained with Distinction” in the HKDSE. 

As for primary school levels, the NCS students can join the 4-week Summer Measures Bridging Program introduced in summer 2007. It has since been extended from enrolling incoming NCS Primary 1 entrants to also accepting NCS students proceeding to Primary 2, 3, and 4. It aims to help NCS students adapt to the new learning environment and expose them to using Chinese as the medium of instruction within a real classroom setting. Since 2013, parents of NCS students have been able to accompany their children which is a necessary action as parents of NCS students lack knowledge about the mainstream education system (Kapai, 2015; Zhou, Cai, and Wang, 2016)

4. Future Plans

Future plans for the framework include expanding it to kindergarten. So far, the enrolment in most kindergartens has been through interviews conducted with the child and the parents in Chinese. While student admission in kindergartens continues to be the same, the EDB has provided bilingual templates of the application forms and relevant information in Chinese and English. Also, the Free Quality Kindergarten Education Policy, which gives grants comparable to the salary of one teacher to kindergartens admitting eight or more NCS students, has been implemented since 2017/2018.

There are also plans for secondary level NCS students. For those taking the HKDSE (Chinese Language), the University Grants Committee-funded institutions may consider applications case by case to provide flexibility in the Chinese language requirement for NCS students that could not reach Level 3 or above. This would enable NCS students that were not able to master the language (e.g., late-comers) to still have an opportunity to continue their education and professional development.

5. Recommendations

The Learning Framework is a well-thought and organized set of guidelines towards a sustainable education. There are many strengths that this framework has; however, there are also limitations that need to be taken into consideration when re-evaluating the framework. 

One limitation most worth mentioning is related to teacher education. Although teachers are receiving enough support to familiarize themselves with the concept of the framework, they lack knowledge and techniques to teach in a multicultural classroom. Teachers need to learn about the NCS students’ needs so that they can be a role model for the local students in terms of respect and interaction.

Currently, the framework focuses largely on primary and secondary education. The EDB has also made multiple attempts of including NCS students into local kindergartens; however, there has not been much success. This could be due to the fact that many kindergartens do not have teachers trained to teach Chinese as a second language. Therefore, teacher education at kindergarten level is needed as well. There is also an urgent need for compulsory and, possibly, free education from kindergarten level (Kapai, 2015).

As for parents of NCS students, informing them about the Hong Kong education system is also desired. Providing parents with more information and educating them about the framework could decrease the number of parents choosing designated schools for their children in cases when they are uninformed about other opportunities. Therefore, they need to be educated about the system, the idea, the benefits, and the current limitations. 

6. Conclusion

Hong Kong is growing as a multicultural and international city and has, acknowledged the need to integrate ethnic minority population into the local education system. The government has made the first step towards desegregation by removing the label ‘designated schools’ with the attempt to give ethnic minority students an equal opportunity in choosing schools. This movement itself was a sign of progress; however, it was not nearly enough to accomplish the goal of desegregation.

With this in mind, the government created the ‘Chinese Language Curriculum Second Language Concerned Learning Framework’. This framework allows NCS students to participate in the same classes as Chinese-speaking students and to, eventually, become independent in local mainstream classes. Participating schools are provided with support measures such as financial support and teacher training in teaching Chinese as a second language, whereas the NCS students are prepared to attend the HKDSE examination in the Chinese language. 

In the future, the government plans to expand the framework to kindergarten education to encourage NCS parents to expose their children to the Chinese language from earlier ages. Future plans also include providing flexibility to secondary level NCS students in the HKDSE Chinese language requirement, which would allow late-comers to continue their education. The framework provides grounds for equal opportunities in education and for cultural exchange. It aims to reduce inequality and it promotes social inclusion of all, regardless of race, ethnicity, origin or religion. This is, indeed, a step forward for Hong Kong on its path of as a multicultural city.

7. References

Education Bureau (EDB).(2008). Developing a Supplementary Guide to the Chinese        Language Curriculum for Non-Chinese Speaking Students. Hong Kong.

Education Bureau (EDB).(2014).Enhanced Chinese Learning and Teaching for Non-Chinese     Speaking Students. Hong Kong. 

Education Bureau (EDB).(2016). Existing and planned measures on the promotion of      equality for ethnic minorities.Hong Kong.

Education Bureau (EDB).(2017). Education services for non-Chinese speaking (NCS)     students. Hong Kong.

Gao, F. (2012). Teacher Identity, Teaching Vision, and Chinese Language Education for South    Asian Students in Hong Kong. Teachers and Teaching18(1), 89-99. doi: 10.1080/13540602.2011.622558

Groves, J., & O'Connor, P. (2017). Negotiating Global Citizenship, Protecting Privilege: Western Expatriates Choosing Local Schools in Hong Kong. British Journal of         Sociology of Education, 1-15. doi: 10.1080/01425692.2017.1351866

Home Affairs Department (HAD)(2013). Hong Kong 2011 Population Census Thematic Report: Ethnic Minorities. Hong Kong.

Kapai, P. (2015). Status of Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong 1997 – 2014. Hong Kong:      Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong.

Law, K., & Lee, K. (2012). The Myth of Multiculturalism in ‘Asia's World City’: Incomprehensive Policies for Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong. Journal of Asian          Public Policy5(1), 117-134. doi: 10.1080/17516234.2012.662353

United Nations(UN). (2017). Sustainable Development Goals.Retrieved from:

Zhou, Y., Cai, T., & Wang, D. (2016). Social Segregation in Hong Kong’s Schools: 2000–           2012. Chinese Sociological Review48(3), 248-270. doi: 10.1080/21620555.2016.1166340

8. Key Terms and Definitions

NCS students: ethnic minorities under the definition of non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students of primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong.

‘Chinese language’: refers to ‘Cantonese dialect’, the official language of Hong Kong.

‘Public schools’: represents all government schools, aided schools (including special schools), caput schools and Direct Subsidy Scheme schools following the local curriculum.

About the Author

Lana Miskulin

MEd, University of Hong Kong


Cross-Border Schooling in Hong Kong

By XU Tongling

Table of Contents

1.    Introduction

2.    Background

3.    Impacts on the Education Systems in Hong Kong

4.    Challenges faced by Cross-Border Students

5.    Discussion and Recommendations

6.    References

7.    About the author 

1.    Introduction

Children of mainland Chinese parents born in Hong Kong are legally granted permanent residency which entitles them to abode in Hong Kong and social benefits. Since 2003 an influx of pregnant women from Mainland China giving birth in Hong Kong has increased. This has led to much debate primarily focusing on the local health care system and implications for the broader social services system. In particular, the impact on the education system is also of significance. This entry discusses issues and implications of cross-border schooling in Hong Kong.

2.    Background

In the context of Hong Kong, after its return to China in 1997, people from Mainland started noticing the benefits of giving birth in Hong Kong, such as freedom from the one-child policy and support from a relatively more generous social welfare system, both of which are argued to contribute to the phenomenon. In 1979, the Chinese government introduced the one-child policy, with the intention to reduce the rapidly growing population by limiting Chinese to only one child (Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, 1995). However, traditionally in Chinese culture, parents preferred several children to increase and ensure support for the household and to continue family lineage. Since the policy was applied only in Mainland China, Hong Kong was an ideal nearby destination for giving birth for families who wanted more children. In addition, these children are born with permanent residency which entitles them to abode in Hong Kong and access to its social benefits such as free education and subsided health care. 

Director of Immigration v. Chong Fung Yuenin 2001 acknowledged that children born in Hong Kong should be given permanent residency regardless of the status of their parents, while the Individual Visit Scheme allows mainlanders to visit Hong Kong on an individual basis with less restrictions than earlier. In 1997, the total number of babies born in Hong Kong to Mainland women was 5,830 (9.8% of total births) which increased to 10,128 in 2003 (45.4%), and more than tripled to 37,253 in 2009 (45.4%)(Yam, 2011). This phenomenon has had a strong impact on many aspects of the Hong Kong social system. The influx increased the burden on the health care system and caused a shortage of baby products and obstetric resources (e.g., maternity beds, qualified midwives, and specialist obstetricians) (Yam, 2011). This resulted in criticism and stigmatisation and exacerbated tensions between Hong Kong and Mainland China in the post-handover era. Due to public pressures, the local government suggested that all public and private hospitals should stop accepting non-local pregnant women's delivery bookings from 2013, thus banning Mainland mothers from giving birth in Hong Kong. This decision became known as the ‘Zero-quota Policy’ (GOVHK, 2012a). As a result, the number of babies born to Mainland mothers in Hong Kong dropped dramatically.

3.    Impact on the Education System in Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s high-quality education also plays a role in the decision of Mainland parents to give birth across the border. According to a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department (CSD), high quality education was the most decisive factoraccording to Mainland parents (CSD, 2011). The perception that Hong Kong has a better education system than Mainland possibly could be explained by three reasons. 

First, teaching in Hong Kong is more student-oriented. Teachers respect and encourage students’ individuality, curiosity, and creativity rather than diminishing them (Huang, 2017). Second, due to its colonial history and status as an international city, Hong Kong has its own unique multilingual and multi-cultural advantages in education. Learning in an environment with three languages (Mandarin, Cantonese, and English) and studying with peers from different cultural backgrounds develop students’ multilingual competencies and foster a sense of global citizenship. Third, Hong Kong is seen as a good stepping-stone for students to study overseas or emigrate to the US and UK. The qualifications students receive in Hong Kong secondary education (e.g., the DSE, A-level, AP, and IB) are all widely accepted by higher education systems in many countries in the world (Hong Kong Examinationsand Assessment Authority, 2015). However, the situation is different for the equivalent qualifications received in Mainland. 

The recent decrease in birth rate in the past years has caused many schools in Hong Kong to face the risk of closure and the threat of unemployment for many teachers. It is argued that the situation could be possibly moderated by the increase of cross-border education. However, such school-aged children mainly targeted schools in districts near the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, which largely aggravates the competitive situation of school enrolment where limited school places in these areas fail to meet the growing demand. Recently, a primary school in the same district received more than 300 applications for 15 seats in Primary 1 (Ming Pao, 2017). The growing competitiveness of school place increases cross-district schooling of local children. In some cases, local students were allocated to schools which are more than thirty minutes away by train instead of just five minutes’ walk from home (Zhao, 2016). It is reported that 145 children living in North District were allocated to distant districts in 2012, which increased to more than 200 in 2016 (GOVHK, 2012b; Zhao, 2016). 

The increase of cross-border school-children not only adds pressure to local education systems but also threatens local schools’ sustainable development. In order to keep up with the influx and relieve the burden of targeted districts, local authorities issued some measures and policies. For example, in the North District several new schools were built and existing schools enlarged class size, opened more classes, and converted rooms originally built for other purposes into new classrooms to meet the greater demand (GOVHK, 2012b, 2013a). Locals are concerned that these measures only alleviate the demanding situation in the short-term without solving long-term implications. Additionally, parents worry that a larger class size increases pressures and workloads onto teachers which may in turn affect education quality and children’s development (Sing Tao Daily, 2013a, 2013b). A drop in student enrolment is expected in 2019 and a gradual decline of students afterwards. Thus, newly-built schools, expanded classrooms, and increased number of teachers will become unnecessary. This situation is exacerbated by the low birth rate in Hong Kong. As a result, many schools will be at risk of closure and teachers – at risk of unemployment. 

4.    Challenges Faced by Cross-Border Students

Cross-border students are often criticised for unduly benefitting from the Hong Kong welfare system. However, they face challenges in using these resources. As their families are often based in Shenzhen, the children have to cross the border to attend school in Hong Kong every day by taking coaches, nanny buses, or public transportation mostly without their parents’ company, which exposes them to dangers of traffic accidents and crimes (GOVHK, 2011). In addition to safety issues posed, cross-border schooling raises concerns about the growth and academic development of students. Daily cross-border travelling is time- and energy-consuming— often taking up to three hours. The children spend significantly more time on the road than their peers who study in Shenzhen and/or are based in Hong Kong, which results in less time for sleep, family communication, and social activities (Lam, 2015). This has been seen to fuel disengagement in studies and hinder healthy growth and holistic academic development. 

In 2013, the local government introduced a new policy on school allocation, specifically targeting cross-border school-children. These children will be allocated within a ‘school net’ which consists of 3,000 places from 122 schools in 8 districts across Hong Kong, and near-by school allocation was prioritised for local children (GOVHK, 2013b; Zhao, 2016). As a result, rather than clustered in certain districts, cross-border children were allocated sporadically in various districts, some of which are further away from the border (Zhao, 2016). This made some cross-border children’s daily-commute to school even longer and more burdening than before. Furthermore, lack of sufficient language skills and overall understandings of Hong Kong’s culture posed many difficulties for cross-border children to socially integrate to the local communities (Lam, 2015). Differences in culture and values between the two sides make it harder for these children to form their identities and values. 

Having experienced that cross-border schooling is not as beneficial as expected and even exhausting, many parents expressed strong wishes to transfer their children to schools in Mainland. However, due to the status as Hong Kong permanent residents these children cannot have Mainland household registration. Absence of Mainland registration means that they do not have access to public education resources in Mainland China even though they are born to Mainland Chinese parents. Although private schooling in Shenzhen is an option to ‘rescue’ these children from the ‘mire’, not all families can afford the high tuition fees (Su, 2017). In April 2013, Shenzhen government announced that local public schools will start accepting students from Hong Kong and Macau on an accumulated point basis (Su, 2017). Although this is an improvement, the extent to which public education is available remains restricted. Parents also expressed concerns and hesitations as policies for public education at higher levels remain unclear (Su, 2017).

5.    Discussion and Recommendations 

In 2015, the United NationsGeneral Assembly adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 4 highlights the need to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education’(United Nations, 2015). Current policies seem ineffective in achieving this goal in the context of Mainland-Hong Kong border. From cross-border students’ perspective, the access to public education in Mainland remains limited to a certain extent. At the same time in Hong Kong, nearby school allocation is prioritised for local students, which makes cross-border schooling more exhausting. This, together with the issues of safety, social and cultural maladaptation, and identity formation, has repercussions for students’ physical, mental, and academic development. 

From a Hong Kong perspective, the influx of new students not only adds pressure to the local education system but also threatens local schools’ development. Limited school availability in certain districts fails to meet the demand, resulting in many local children being burdened with cross-district schooling. School expansion seems to alleviate the demanding situation short-term; however, it leaves abandonment and inefficiency of schools to be a future issue. To achieve the goal of inclusive and equitable quality education, Hong Kong and Mainland authorities need to work together to ensure barriers to access education for all children are removed, while schools and teachers need to build a healthy and inclusive environment to ensure successful learning of their students.

6.     References

Census and Statistics Department (CSD). (2011). Babies Born in Hong Kong to Mainland Women. Hong Kong Monthly Digest of Statistics. Retrieved from

GOVHK. (2011, June 15). LCQ10: Cross-boundary Students. Retrieved from

GOVHK. (2012a, May 16). LCQ2: Non-local Pregnant Women Giving Birth in Hong Kong. Retrieved from

GOVHK. (2012b, June 6). LCQ3: Primary One places in the North District. Retrieved from

GOVHK. (2013a, February 6). LCQ6: Primary One Places in the North District. Retrieved from

GOVHK. (2013b, August 15). Press Releases: Transcript of Remarks by Secretary for Education.Retrieved from

Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. (2001). Final Appeal No.26 of 2000 (Civil) the Director of Immigration and Master Chong Fung-Yuen (an Infant by His Grandfather and Next Friend Chong Yiu-Shing). Retrieved from 

Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. (2015). Recognition of HKDSE Overseas Studies. Retrieved from

Huang, X. (2107, August 26). Bushi lushan zhen mianmu?! Cong neidi jiaoyu gongzuozhe de guandian he jiaodu kan zhonggang liangdi xuexiao jiaoyu de butong [Fail to See the Truth?! See the Differences between Mainland and Hong Kong Education from the Perspective of a Mainland Education Practioner]Retrieved from不識盧山真面目:中港二地學校教育的不同/

Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. (1995). Family Planning in China. Retrieved from

Lam, B. (2015). Kuajing xuetong de kunju yu chulu [Difficult Situation of Cross-boundary Students and Solutions]. Hong Kong Teachers’ Centre Bulletin.88. Retrieved from

Ming Pao. (2017, Jun 3). Shuangfei gaofeng xiaoshui xiao 300ren zheng 15 komenwei xiaoyipaiwei fangbang zhonggang jiazhang gekong huhong [300 Anchor Babies Compete for Fifteen Seats in a School in Sheung Shui; Results of Primary One Allocation Released, Mainland and Hong Kong Parents Argue for Each Side Over the Media]. Ming Pao. Retrieved from

Sing Tao Daily. (2013a, March 23). Beiqu xiaoyi xueer jiaban jiapai [A Primary School in the North District Increased Number and Size of Classes]. Sing Tao Daily. Retrieved from

Sing Tao Daily. (2013b, March 23). Jiaoshi yali zeng [Increased Pressures on Teachers]. Sing Tao Daily. Retrieved from

Su, X. (2017). Shenzhen Parents with Hong Kong-born Children Shunning Mainland Schools. South China Morning Post. Retrieve from

United Nations. (2015). Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved from

Yam, B. (2011). Cross-border Childbirth Between Mainland China and Hong Kong: Social Pressures and Policy Outcomes.Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies8(2). doi: 10.5130/portal.v8i2.1846

Zhao, S. (2016). Learning, the Hard Way. South China Morning Post. Retrieved from

About the Author 

XU Tongling

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Walkability in Hong Kong

By Wu Wenxi

Table of Contents

1.    Introduction

2.    Policies Related to Walkability

3.    Walkability Prospects and Issues in Hong Kong

3.1.   Central District on Hong Kong Island

3.2.   Mong Kok on Kowloon Peninsula

3.3.   Residential Area in New Territories

4.    Education and Public Engagement

5.    Conclusion

6.    References

7.    Appendix

8.    About the Author

1.    Introduction

Walking is a major activity in most people’s urban experience. In response to the environmental challenges resulting from increased population density and overdependence on cars, the idea of walkability has been increasingly advocated in urban planning. The term ‘walkability’ can be defined as a measure of ‘the extent to which walking is readily available as a safe, connected, accessible and pleasant mode of transport’ (Albey, 2005, p. 2). The conditions of security, mobility, convenience, comfort, and enjoyment are widely recognised as core elements of what makes urban space walkable (Gehl, 2006; Katarzyna, Piotr, and Michal, 2017; Speck, 2012). On the level of social inclusiveness, walkability also relates to traveling experience of wheelchair users and other groups with mobility challenges (Lo, 2009).

Pedestrian activity has a wide range of benefits for the environment and people’s wellbeing. It allows more people to reach their destinations within walking distance, which reduces traffic congestion, noise, and air pollution. A proper amount of daily walking can lower many health risks induced by today’s sedentary lifestyle, including obesity, diabetes (Casagrande, 2009), and cardio-vascular diseases (Lovasi, 2006). It also has a positive impact on people’s mental health, such as reducing stress and maintaining cognitive levels for the elderly (Weuve et al., 2004). Moreover, walking has a ‘social and recreational value’ (Southworth, 2005, p. 246) by creating more opportunities for interpersonal interaction and outdoor leisure. 

The emphasis on walkability reflects a people-centred mentality in today’s urban planning. It challenges the previous focus on ‘high-speed routes’ and ‘car communication’ (Katarzyna et al., 2017, p. 224), which has compromised pedestrians’ usage of public space and caused problems for the environment and people’s lives. ‘Making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ is promulgated by the United Nations as Sustainable Development Goal 11. The goal targets emphasise raising the level of human wellbeing by ensuring safety, accessibility, connectivity, and social interaction for all people, and the promotion of walkability in the city can be one practical way to help achieve these targets.

According to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat, 2016), Hong Kong has been leading the ‘cultural shift away from auto-dependency’ towards a sustainable mode of development ‘oriented to transit, walking and cycling’ (pp. 39-40). With 33% of its land allocated for streets, which is the highest in the world (UN-Habitat, 2013), pedestrian mobility is meaningful to the city’s long-term prosperity. This entry will introduce key policies and typical practices for walkability in Hong Kong and will contribute to the outreach of public education about the impact of this issue on the city’s overall sustainable development.

2.    Policies Related to Walkability

In Hong Kong strategic urban planning has a history of development since the 1970s. Before Hong Kong’s reunification with China, a series of governmental reports were produced. Those early plans had made significant recommendations on city zoning, accommodation for a dense population, and transportation networks. However, it was not until the issuance of the Territorial Development Strategy Reviewin 1996 that environmental factors were taken into serious consideration, shifting the guideline from the ‘land use-transport duo’ to a ‘land use-transport-environment trio’ (Planning Dept., 2007, p. 4).

In 2006, the Planning Department of the Hong Kong SAR Government embarked on a decennial study on strategic planning, Hong Kong 2030: Planning Vision and Strategy, with ‘sustainable development as its overarching goal’ (Planning Dept., 2007, p. 111). The study called attention to the importance of ‘the provision of comfortable, safe and interesting pedestrian environments’ (p. 28) and highlighted ‘reliance on walking and cycling for short distance travel’ (p. 113) as future directions. A key measure is to encourage mixed-use development, which integrates residential, commercial, and social usages in the area to shorten commute distance. Other measures include building weather-proof infrastructure and pedestrian-aid facilities (pp. 156-157).

A decade later, the Planning Department launched a follow-up study, Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030, scheduled to be completed in 2018. In a recent report, there are many recommendations focused on walkability, now regarded as ‘a key element for sustainable cities’ (Planning Dept. 2016, p. 21). Specifically, the government will continue endorsing mixed-used, integrated walkways to decrease motorised transport. The report recommends measures to remove intruding roadside structures, redesign unnecessary changes of routes, widen over-narrow streets, and add greenery and seating to make the pedestrian environment ‘safe, inviting, and accessible’ (pp. 21-22). The report also underlines walkability to suit the needs of different groups of people, such as vehicle-free paths for school children and barrier-free paths for the elderly and disabled (p. 27).

3.    Walkability Prospects and Issues in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is geographically divided into Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, and the New Territories, each of which shows different levels of walkability because of their unique landscape and ways of development. The following section will introduce the walking conditions in typical locations in these areas.

3.1.  Central District on Hong Kong Island

Central is the central business district of Hong Kong, located on Hong Kong Island. The area is characterised by numerous skyscrapers that carve the city’s modern skyline. On the reclaimed land towards the harbour, footbridges can easily take the pedestrians to plazas and waterfront promenades. Up towards Des Voeux Road Central and Queen’s Road Central, there are steep slopes and spiral lanes with a diversity of shops and good linkage to public transport. 

According to a study led by the non-profit public policy think tank Civic Exchange in 2012 (Ng et al., 2012), there is a challenge of crowdedness and conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles, yet the proximity to the MTR network as well as the northern and southern stretches of elevated walkways have resolved the problem to some extent. However, wayfinding and crossing at-grade are difficult in some places, and more greenery and seating are needed.

In 2016, the research group conducted another study that measured the level of walkability in Central between Connaught Road Central and Queen’s Road Central. The result shows that the area scored highly in terms of ‘accessibility and connectivity,’ ‘physical and visual permeability,’ ‘scale and density,’ ‘variety and diversity,’ and ‘transit and pedestrian friendliness’ (Ng et al., 2016, p. 34).  Problems include a shortage of public amenities such as seating and toilets, lack of attractions with local culture, and some safety issues. Overall, the level of walkability in Central is average (Ng et al., 2016). 

3.2.   Mong Kok on Kowloon Peninsula 

Mong Kok represents an old, busy, and dense urban market place. The streets are narrow with heavy traffic and a large population flow. There are numerous small shops and restaurants as well as some large shopping malls such as Langham Place and Argyle Centre. Streets with distinct local features such as Ladies Street and Temple Street have drawn visitors from all places. In the measurement of walkability, Mong Kok scored well in ‘scale and density’ and ‘variety and diversity’ (Ng et al., 2016, p. 35). 

What is lacking, however, is such aspects as safety, connectivity, streetscape, and public amenities. Although there are both underground and elevated walkways, pedestrians often have to take many detours, and these walkways are not clean and interesting to walk in. Some shop frontages are not properly managed, causing obstacles along the street-side and people congestion.  

There seems to be a long-standing ‘dilemma’ that has curbed walkability in Mong Kok, which is how ‘to control overcrowding without losing its charm’ (Ng et al., 2012, p. 82). The large flow of population and compact businesses keep the area alive while also resulting in over-crowdedness, unsightliness, and noise pollution for local residents. Therefore, the overall pedestrian environment in Mong Kok is poor (Ng et al., 2016). 

3.3.   Residential Areas in New Territories

The social and spatial conditions of the New Territories are quite different from the old areas of Hong Kong, and this area has received far less international attention. Cleared of busy markets or layered walkways, the New Territories is built with large-scale residential compounds that are home to around half of the city’s population (Population Census, 2011). Since the area’s urbanisation in the 1960s, the main concern of development has been about networks between residence and public transport. Streets are clearly separated from the vehicular lanes, which has increased the safety and efficiency of walking. 

Despite good connectivity to public transits, walking for social and recreational purposes is quite limited since there is almost no streetscape with small shops or restaurants for people to stroll along, and the cultural characteristics that give people a sense of belonging are rare. Although there are good neighbourhoods such as Upper Ngau Tau Kok, where people can enjoy some public open space with trees, playgrounds, and artworks, these facilities are only found inside residential compounds, cut off by walls from their surroundings, which tend to restrict variety of lifestyles and connection to different cultures (Tieben, 2016). 

4.    Education and Public Engagement

In the field of education for sustainable development (ESD), Vare and Scott (2007) have distinguished between two different but complementary approaches towards sustainable living. One is characterised by facilitating sustainable development by advised behaviours according to expert knowledge (ESD 1), and the other is by critical thinking that examines the feasibility of such knowledge (ESD 2). The combination of the two approaches, which can make ESD both informative and reflective, is manifest in the building process of a walkable city by the Hong Kong SAR Government, joined by many other participants.

The Planning Department has made the City Gallery a key venue for exchanging with the public the ideas in the planning of Hong Kong by thematic exhibitions and workshops. The City Gallery acts as an ‘educational platform’ that provides many programmes targeting at different levels of students and professionals. These include the ‘City Gallery Summer Planning Schools,’ which enrolled 280 primary and secondary school students as ‘city planners’ and invited young colleagues within the Department as tutors (Planning Dept., 2017, p. 83). Significantly, 43% of the group visits to the City Gallery during 2016 were organised by educational institutions (p. 77), and the Department has close ties with the academics for the development and evaluation of planning strategies (p. 73).

In the public sphere, a number of civic groups, such as Civic Exchange and Hong Kong Public Space Initiative, and Designing Hong Kong, have been engaged in improving walkability in the city. In 2015, these groups jointly advanced the proposal of building a bus-free, pedestrian area in Des Voeux Road Central to the Government, which later transformed into the Des Voeux Road Central Initiative. In January 2017, Walk DVRC Ltd. was established as an NGO to focus on vitalising the pedestrian experience in the area. They have been organising various events to enhance community education, which include exhibitions to promote innovative planning concepts and forums to gather different communities to share planning strategies (Walk DVRC Ltd., 2017).

It may be argued that the promotion of walkability in Hong Kong represents a successful combination of ESD 1 and ESD 2 by incorporating the transmission of walkability ideas with active engagement and contribution from diverse communities.

5.    Conclusion

Hong Kong has already achieved excellent connectivity and mobility in terms of public transport, and now the government’s attention has been directed towards improving the pedestrian environment. In Central, more public amenities and cultural displays are advised to be implemented. In Mong Kok, there is a need for wider pavements, reduction of detours, enhancement of sanitation, and better balance between new development and cultural preservation. In the New Territories, the human-oriented development mode should be strengthened and put into practice.

Besides the governmental work, public participation is indispensable. At the Walk21 Conference hosted by Civic Exchange in 2016, Secretary of Transport and Housing Mr. Cheung Bing-Leung stressed that the achievement of walkability must be supported by the citizens’ willingness to accept walking as a natural mode of commute (Yau and Siu, 2016). Therefore, policymakers, schools, businesses, and other social communities may continue working together to promote relevant educational programmes and activities to raise public awareness of the value of walkability on various levels.

6.    References

Albey, S. (2005). Walkability Scoping Paper. New Zealand. Retrieved from

Casagrande, S. S. (2009).Walkability, Healthy Food Availability and the Association with Obesity and Diabetes in Baltimore City, Maryland(PhD dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest.  

Gehl, J. (2006). New City Life(1sted.). Copenhagen: Danish Architectural Press.

Katarzyna, T., Piotr, C., & Michal, J. (2017). The Concept of a Walkable City as an Alternative Form of Urban Mobility. Scientific Journal of Silesian University of Technology. Series Transport, 95, 223-230. doi:10.20858/sjsutst.2017.95.20

Lo, R. H. (2009). Walkability: What Is It? Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability, 2(2), 145-166. doi:10.1080/17549170903092867

Lovasi, G. S. (2006). Neighborhood Walkability, Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Risk (PhD dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest.  

Ng, S., Lai, C., Liao, P., Lao, M., Lau, W., Govada, S., & Spruijt, W. (2016). Measuring and Improving Walkability in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Civic Exchange. 

Ng, S., Lau, W., Brown, F., Tam, E., Lao, M., & Booth, V. (2012). Walkable City, Living Streets. Hong Kong: Civic Exchange. 

Planning Department of the Hong Kong SAR Government (Planning Dept.). (2007). Hong Kong 2030: Planning Vision and Strategy. Hong Kong: Planning Department HKSARG. 

Planning Department of the Hong Kong SAR Government (Planning Dept.). (2016). Planning and Urban Design for a Livable High-density City. Hong Kong: Planning Department HKSARG. 

Planning Department of the Hong Kong SAR Government (Planning Dept.). (2017). Annual Report 2017. Hong Kong: Planning Department HKSARG. 

Population Census. (2011). Hong Kong: Census and Statistics Department HKSARG. Retrieved from

Southworth, M. (2005). Designing the Walkable City. Journal of Urban Planning and Development, 131(4), 246-257. doi: 10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9488(2005)131:4(246)

Speck, J. (2012). Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time(1sted.). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Tieben, H. (2016). Public Space Trends in Hong Kong. A View from the New Territories. The Journal of Public Space, 1(1), 25-34. doi:10.5204/jps.v1i1.7

United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). (2013). Streets as Public Spaces and Drivers of Urban Prosperity. Nairobi: UN-Habitat. 

United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). (2016). Urbanization and Development: Emerging Futures. Nairobi: UN-Habitat. 

Vare, P., & Scott, W. (2007). Learning for a Change: Exploring the Relationship Between Education and Sustainable Development. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 1(2), 191-198. doi:10.1177/097340820700100209 

Walk DVRC Ltd. (2017).Walk DVRC. Hong Kong: Walk DVRC Ltd. Retrieved from

Weuve, J., Kang, J. H., Manson, J. E., Breteler, M. M. B., Ware, J. H., & Grodstein, F. (2004). Physical Activity, Including Walking, and Cognitive Function in Older Women. JAMA, 292(12), 1454-1461. doi:10.1001/jama.292.12.1454

Yau, C., and Siu, P. (2016, October 3). Walk the Talk, Hong Kong Transport Minister Urges Conference on City Walkability. South China Morning Post.

About the Author

Wu Wenxi

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Prevention of Drug Abuse Through School Connectedness in Hong Kong

By Chen Sijia (Phyllis)

Table of Content

1.    Introduction

2.    Background

3.    Drug Education in Schools

4.    School Connectedness 

5.    Conclusion

6.     References

7.    About the Author

1. Introduction

Promotion of mental health and well-being is one of the targets ofGoal 3 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, under which there is a specific aim of strengthening prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol (United Nations, 2016). Substance abuse harms the development of individuals, families, and communities (Salam et al., 2016). In Hong Kong, it is estimated that more than four billion Hong Kong dollars were spent on combatting drug related issues in 1998 (Security Bureau, 2008). The problem is severe as there is an increase in the number of young drug abusers and a drop in the mean age of drug abusers (Security Bureau, 2009). Adolescents with poor social relationships and school engagement are likely to be at a greater risk for subsequent drug use (Bond et al., 2007). One way to prevent drug abuse is by enhancing school connectedness in secondary schools. 

This entry first gives an overview of the current drug situation among teenagers in Hong Kong, including the types of drugs they take, the locality of drug abuse, the reasons for drug abuse, and physical, mental and social impacts. This section is followed by theintroduction of current drug education and its potential limitations in secondary schools. As a way to solve the problem, the concept of ‘School Connectedness’ is introduced and analysed as a possible strategy for the prevention of drug abuse. 

2.    Background

According to the Hong Kong Security Bureau (2016), heroin, methamphetamine (commonly known as “Ice”), ketamine, triazolam, midazolam, zopiclone, cocaine, cannabis, cough medicine, MDMA, nimetazepam, etc. are abused in Hong Kong. Among all, heroin is the most popular one, but psychotropic substances including ketamine, ecstasy, ice, cannabis, and cocaine are commonly used by young abusers. Apart from purchasing them from drug dealers in person or from friends peers, youth can purchase drugsfrom a secure, online network, known as Darknet, which only requires a specific software and configurations to help dealers buy and sell drugs anonymously. 

Over half of abusers only take drugs at home or at friends’ homes (Security Bureau, 2016), which makes the hidden drug abuse problem more severe. As for public areas, the popular places for drug taking include recreation areas, parks, public toilets, disco/karaoke clubs, hotels, and bars. For young abusers, school (including school hostels) and electronic game centres are also common places for using drugs. 

The reasons behind drug abuse can be analysed from four perspectives: individual, family, school, and community. From the individual perspective, over half of reported young abusers claim peerinfluence. Curiosity, relief of negative emotions, seeking euphoria, sensory satisfaction, and avoiding discomfort are other common reasons among young people (Security Bureau, 2009). These reasons are closely related to psychological factors, such as lack of psychological competencies and coping skills, low sense of self-achievement, and non-engagement. In schools, poor academic achievement, low learning motivation, bad relationships with teachers, and lack of school connectedness may be predictors for risky behaviours including drug abuse (Security Bureau, 2009). In terms of family, absence of parents, poor relationships with close family members, and lack of supervision from adults may contribute to teenagers’ drug taking behaviour. From the societal viewpoint, the increase in the number of young abusers can be the result of the combination of many factors such as easier access to drugs, a growing wealth gap, and others. 

Drug abuse can do harm to one’s physical and mental health, social life, and overall performance and well-being. Physically, psychiatric substances may damage organs in a human body and cause changes in brain function, which may raise the chance of developing depression, hallucinations, attention deficit, and even long-term mental illness (Security Bureau, 2009). In addition, most psychotropic substances are potentially addictive. Young abusers may develop physical and psychological dependence, which may further cause adverse effects socially and economically. 

3.    Drug Education in Schools

Over half of the young abusers are under 15 years old and as such represent the age of people attending secondary school (Security Bureau, 2016). Therefore, schools should play an important role in preventing youth from drug abuse. As youth drug abuse has attracted more and more attention, efforts have been made to improve drug education in schools by incorporating more anti-drug elements in thecurriculumand extra-curricular activities. The learning elements include teaching students about the harm of drug use, training in skills to say no to peerspressuring them to try drugs,and instilling positive values and attitudes to face challenges of daily life. Education talks and programmes are also delivered in schools by NGOs.  

However, it has been found that the delivery of suchpreventativeprogrammes in schoolsis inadequate(Lam et al., 2011). First, there is a problem of limited resources and support to deliver drug education or handle specific drug cases in many schools. Second, many teachers do not have sufficient knowledge and skills to teach about drug issues. Third, the distinctive postmodern culture that encourages risky behaviours including drug abuse can be easily spread on campusbut hard to detect by teachers (Laidler, 2005). These factors lead to ineffectiveness of drug education. 

4.    School Connectedness

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2009), school connectedness refers to students’ sense of belonging to school, the belief held by students that they are cared for as individuals by teachers, peers, and school staffs, as well as their feeling of enjoyment and active engagement in school. With school connectedness, students are more likely to have better academic performance and less engagement in risky behaviours (Resnick et al., 1997). School connectedness therefore can be seen as an important protective factor that helps promote a healthy culture on campus and increase emotional well-being of students. There are several practical strategies that can be applied to increase school connectedness. 

To create a safe learning environment, many schools apply a zero-tolerance policy which normally requires expulsion when an infraction happens for the first time. However, it is reported that with harsh discipline policies, students feel less safe at school (McNeely, Nonnemaker, and Blum, 2002). That does not mean that schools should not make any disciplinary regulations. In contrast, schools should pay more attention to student’s core developmental needs and incorporate those needs into policies to maximize school connectedness. According to Eccles, Midgefield, and Wigfield (1993), adolescents at the age of attending secondary school have an increasing need for autonomy and want to demonstrate their competences. At the same time, they need not only receive care and support from adults and peers, but also developmentally appropriate supervision. When making disciplinary policies, schools need to take these developmental needs into account and support students not only in relation to their academic achievements.

Teachers play an important role in positively connecting students to schools (Vidourek, 2009). However, big class sizes in some schools make it difficult for teachers to provide individualized assistance and show warmth and sympathy to each and every student. Instead, teachers only focus on quantitative standards such as students’ homework and test scores, thus lowering students’ school connectedness. Therefore, teachers should change their attitudes and make use of some strategies to increase school connectedness of students. Similar to school policy making, teachers need to consider students’ developmental needs when setting classroom rules. For example, teachers can involve students in the process of low-level decision-making and the planning of classroom-based curricula to provide more opportunities for autonomy (Blum, McNeely, and Rinehart, 2002). Teachers can also provide more chances for students to share responsibilities in the classroom by giving appropriate leadership positions to students so that they can see themselves as part of a collectivity. 

Apart from that, it is important for teachers to help build a sense of community in the classroom. It is useful to involve some icebreaking activities at the beginning of semester to help students get to know their classmates. During school year, teachers can promote cooperation among students by grouping students with diverse backgrounds and abilities to work on projects or conduct discussions together so that students could learn from each other and at the same time gain a deeper understanding of their classmates. Projects or discussions can be related to drug-related issues which will help students actively engage in drug education (Vidourek, 2009). It has been shown that such cooperative learning reduces substance use and other risky behaviours and increases student connectedness to peers and schools (Blum, McNeely & Rinehart, 2002; Johnson, 1974). 

There are other specific ways for teachers to build positive relationships with each and every student. As recommended by Blum, McNeely, and Rinehart (2002), teachers could make a simple change in language by addressing the class using ‘we’, ‘us’, and ‘our’, instead of first or second person (I or you) to break down barriers and to strengthen the connectedness. It is also necessary for teachers to know their students by name and to praise their strengths. Applying these strategies in classroom management meets the needs of students’ psychological development and helps increase their school connectedness. 

Over half of secondary school students complain that school is boring (Whitlock, 2006). Interactive learning strategies become important to keep students engaged and make them feel connected. To make the classroom an interesting place to learn, teachers need to communicate clearly with students about their learning goals in every lessonand make lessons relevant to students’ lives and the real world (CDC, 2009). Using student-centred pedagogies and allowing personalisation of lessons can also help create a positive learning environment (CDC, 2009). When students find learning interesting and have intrinsic motivation to study they naturally become more engaged and connected to school.

Apart from increasing school connectedness, drug education in schools can be improved by positive cooperation between the government and schools. More resources and support should be provided by the Narcotics Division for schools in need. Schools also need to positively seek support and cooperate with NGOs to improve their anti-drug programmes and to increase the ability to handle unfortunate drug cases among students. Social workers in NGOs can visit schools on a regular basis to build a strong connection to ensure efficiency and quality of drug education in schools. In addition, more anti-drug knowledge and skills should be included in teacher training programmes or professional development workshops to guarantee the quality of drug education delivery. Teachers can include the anti-drug elements in their daily teaching. 

5.     Conclusion 

Prevention of drug use is one important path to achieve sustainable development. Youth drug problem has always been an issue in Hong Kong and, as the number of young abusers is increasing while the age of first-time-abusers is dropping, drug education has to be improved. This entry gave an overview of the current situation of drug abuse in Hong Kong and then provided background information on drug education and ways to improve it. The concept of school connectednesswas introduced as a strategy to promote a healthy culture and to reduce risky behaviours of students in secondary schools. The entry can raise students’ awareness of drug abuse and provide teachers with insight on how to include prevention of drug abuse in their daily teaching and school activities. The public can also make use of the entry as an effective input for drug prevention.

6.    References

Bond, L., Butler, H., Thomas, L., Carlin, J., Glover, S., Bowes, G., & Patton, G. (2007). Social and School Connectedness in Early Secondary School as Predictors of Late Teenage Substance Use, Mental Health, and Academic Outcomes. Journal of Adolescent Health40(4), 357-e9.

Blum, R. W., McNeely, C. A., & Rinehart, P, M. (2002). The Untapped Power of Schools to Improve the Health of Teens.Minneapolis, MN: Center for Adolescent Health and Development, University of Minnesota.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). School Connectedness: Strategies for Increasing Protective Factors Among Youth. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Eccles, J. S., Midgefield, C., & Wigfield, A. (1993). Development during Adolescence: The Impact of Stage-environment Fit on Young Adolescents’ Experiences in Schools and in Families. Am Psychol,48, 90-101.

Johnson, D. W. (1974). A Theory of Social Effectiveness. In M. Wong (Ed.), Why Drugs? The Psychology of Drug Abuse.Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Extension Division.

Laidler, K. A. J. (2005). The Rise of Club Drugs in a Heroin Society: The Case of Hong Kong. Substance Use and Misuse, 40, 1257–1579. 

Lam, C. M., Lau, P. S., Law, B. M., & Poon, Y. H. (2011). Using Positive Youth Development Constructs to Design a Drug Education Curriculum for Junior Secondary Students in Hong Kong. The Scientific World Journal11, 2339-2347 

McNeely, C.A., Nonnemaker, J.M, & Blum, R.W. (2002). Promoting School Connectedness: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Journal of School Health72(4), 138-146. 

Resnick, M., Bearman, P, Blum R., Bauman K., Harris K., Jones, J, et al.(1997). Protecting Adolescents from Harm: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health. JAMA, 278(10), 823-832.  

Salam, R. A., Hooda, M., Das, J. K., Arshad, A., Lassi, Z. S., Middleton, P., & Bhutta, Z. A. (2016). Interventions to Improve Adolescent Nutrition: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Journal of Adolescent Health59(4), S29-S39.

Security Bureau (2008). Report of the Task Force on Youth Drug Abuse.Retrieved from

Security Bureau (2009). Report on the Youth Drug Abuse in Hong Kong. Retrieved from

Security Bureau. (2016). Hong Kong Monthly Digest of Statistics: Drug Abuse Situation in Hong Kong in 2015.Retrieved from

United Nations. (2016).Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved from

Vidourek, R. A. (2009). Elementary & Middle School Teachers' Use and Perceptions of School Connectedness Strategies. Cincinnati, OH:University of Cincinnati.

Whitlock, J. L. (2006). Youth Perceptions of Life at School: Contextual Correlates of School Connectedness in Adolescence. Applied Developmental Science, 10, 13 - 29.

About the Author

Chen Sijia (Phyllis)

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Maintaining Spanish Heritage Language in Hong Kong

By Yuritzi Hernandez R.

Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Heritage and Minority Languages

2.1. Definitions

2.2. Challenges Facing Heritage Language Speakers

2.3. Benefits of Maintaining Heritage Language

3. Methods to Maintain Heritage Language

4. Sábados en Español –an Example of Heritage Language Program in Hong Kong

5. Concluding Remarks

6. References

7. Key Terms and Definitions

8. About the author

1. Introduction

Dramatic changes in our socio-cultural environment due to globalization and migration have had a negative impact on language diversity (TED, 2013). Dominant society assigns greater value to mainstream or majority languages than to peripheral or minority languages (Potowski, 2012, p.183). As Hart-Gonzalez and Feingold (1990, p. 15) point out, this is more likely to be the case where one language is associated with power-related activities, such as education, money-making, and governance. This often results in the diminishing use of the heritage language children grew up speaking at home.

In 2015 the United Nations (UN) set its new agenda for Sustainable Development that consists of 17 goals (commonly known as SDGs). Goal 4 is dedicated to building inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities (UN, 2015). Although the Goal does not mention language, creating awareness of the need to preserve heritage languages falls within its scope, as language and education are intertwined with each other.  In addition, UNESCO has a strong commitment to support mother tongue instruction to promote cultural and linguistic diversity (UNESCO, 2005). Each year on February 21, UNESCO (1999) observes the International Mother Language Day in order ‘to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by people of the world’ (p. v).

This entry aims to raise awareness and understanding of the urgent need to introduce and maintain Heritage Language (HL) Education. Heritage Language (HL) Education will serve not only to encourage local knowledge transmission, linguistic diversity, and multilingual education, but also to develop a fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world, thereby inspiring solidarity based on understanding, tolerance, and dialogue.

2. Heritage and Minority Languages

2.1. Definitions

As defined by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (Council of Europe, 1998), “regional or minority languages” are languages traditionally used within a given territory of a state by nationals of that state who form a group numerically smaller than the rest of the state’s population. They are also different from the official language(s) of that state, and they include neither dialects of the official language(s) of the state nor the languages of migrants (e.g. Western Náhuatl in Mexico, Dungan in Kyrgyzstan, and Northern Khanty in Russia).

The term “heritage language” (HL) is used to identify languages other than the dominant language (or languages) in a given social context. Most of the academics in the field tend to adopt Guadalupe Valdés’ (2000, p. 1) definition of HL in the USA: ‘a student who is raised in a home where a non-English language is spoken, who speaks or merely understands the heritage language, and who is to some degree bilingual in English and the heritage language’ (e.g. Spanish in the USA, Polish in Great Britain, and Turkish in the Netherlands).

The levels of proficiency within a group of HL speakers can vary enormously, depending on the family, cultural connections, community, or country of origin. Some speakers only understand the HL, others are receptive bilinguals who are able to understand the language but do not speak it, while at the other end of the spectrum there are the native-like speakers of the HL.

2.2. Challenges Facing Heritage Language Speakers

Although HL speakers are surrounded by their native tongue since birth, most children only receive formal education in the dominant language. Due to the reduced exposure to their mother tongue and the strong influence of the dominant language, such children use their mother language less frequently. With fewer mother tongue speakers surrounding them and a restricted—mainly informal—social context for HL use, their fluency is poor, language skills are weak, and their vocabulary is limited. The combination of these factors can result in language loss.

Val and Vinogradova (2010) (as cited in Potowski, 2012, p. 188) noted that the loss of the HL can result in a breakdown of communication among family members or negative experiences e.g., misunderstandings, embarrassments, or humiliation. It also can lead to decreased identification with the HL and heritage culture (Potowski, 2012, p. 188). Language is an important factor affecting the achievement of a good balance between social and emotional growth.

2.3. Benefits of Maintaining Heritage Language

Potowksi (2012, p. 179) points out that we rely on language to identify each other’s gender, age, socioeconomic status, and other factors. Language, thus, is not only a communication tool, it defines our identity, helps us develop our social interaction with family and peers, and endorses our cultural background, particularly when one moves across geographical and sociocultural borders (Potowski, 2012, p. 181).

Additionally, as Charles B. Chang (TED, 2014) mentions, language is the instrument we use to communicate, think, and analyze. Moreover, bilingual children develop stronger connections in the brain’s language area. Bialystok (1991) (as cited in Lightbown & Spada, 1993, p. 25) and other developmental psychologists have found convincing evidence that bilingualism can have positive effects on abilities that are related to academic success, such as metalinguistic awareness.    

As promoted by UNESCO (2016), the more instruction children get in their own HL, the better they perform in other areas such as mathematics, and the better academic results they achieve in second language school environments. It is also easier for children to learn a third language. Literacy programs in mother languages bring the self-confidence that children need to participate in their communities.

Furthermore, such children are the future, and should they go back to their country of origin, it will be easier for them to continue education in their HL. Finally, the acquisition and maintenance of more than one language can open doors to many personal, social, and economic opportunities (Lightbown, & Spada, 1993, p. 25). Bilingual children grow up with the possibility of having greater cross-cultural understanding, which may in turn foster better and more peaceful international relationships in future.

3. Methods to Maintain Heritage Language

The first and crucial step is to create awareness among parents, as they will transmit the HL and provide the tools for language development and proficiency. Previous generations had the misconception that children got confused by being spoken to in two languages. Genesee, Cargo, and Paradis (2004) (as cited in Lightbown, & Spada, 1993, p. 25), however, remark that ‘there is little support for the myth that learning more than one language in early childhood is a problem for children’. It is in the parents’ hands, at least for the first years in a child’s life, to maintain their HL. Bills (2010) (as cited in Rivera-Mills, 2012, p. 23) stresses that ‘to be maintained, a language must be transmitted from one generation to the next. If there is no transmission from parents to children and grandchildren, the product is language loss’.

The Stichting Nederlandse Onderwijs in het Buitenland (NOB) (The Foundation for Dutch Education Worldwide) recommends that parents have a fixed period each day or an activity that will only be conducted in the HL, and it is important that the child understands the connection between an activity and ‘its’ language. Children very easily recognize, for example, that school is an English-only ‘zone’, but if parents can recreate the same idea with a Spanish-only ‘zone’, then the children can easily make the switch.

Reading, if possible, should be fostered from an early age and can then become a lifelong activity for readers. Reading can teach children the difference between informal verbal language and academic written language (Minor, 2014, p. 213) and it will boost their vocabulary. Parents may also encourage children to write letters, emails, or messages to extended family and friends. Again, like reading, this can become a family activity.

Education in their HL is necessary as children need to continue developing academically. Being enrolled in a formal HL program will create a space for them to interact with other children who speak their same language and share their culture, and will help them develop their own identity by giving them, at the same time, a feeling of belonging.

Another suggestion for the development and maintenance of HL would be for mainstream schools to implement a HL class after school. As education policy makers should perhaps consider, the learning abilities of children taking such programs will not only improve, as but bilingual or multilingual children may also have a better starting position in the labor market.

As Ayala (2015) notes, the Singapore Mother Tongue Language Policy provides a great example of a language preservation strategy. This policy makes the study of mother tongues compulsory throughout primary and secondary school and is an integral part of student examinations (Ministry of Education, Singapore, 2011).

4. Sábados en Español - an Example of Heritage Language Program in Hong Kong

Sábados en Español is a program for Spanish HL speakers in Hong Kong. The program started four years ago in response to the story of a boy who did not want to go to Spain during the summer holidays. The reason for his reluctance was that he could not communicate with his family and on the few occasions he dared to say something in Spanish, his family and friends would burst into laughter.

At the time of writing there are four levels being taught in the program: beginners, receptive bilinguals, transitional receptive bilinguals, and productive bilinguals. The program is facing many challenges, but particularly problematic is that fact that none of the teachers are specialists in HL teaching. The teachers also struggled with the lack of materials available for their HL learners. Lastly, the HL ability levels of the students vary with each school year, so the curriculum also has to be revised every year.

As Minor (2014) notes, the reality is that teachers are also not prepared for students of this kind. There are very few programs available to prepare teachers to teach HL speakers. The aforementioned lack of material tailored to suit HL learners, also forces teachers to improvise by adapting materials designed for First Language (L1) education or Second Language (L2) students, which involves much additional preparatory work.  

Minor (2014) recommends having specific goals for students and promoting self-esteem in relation to the use of Spanish. Also the use of ‘corrective feedback’ and ‘auto correction’ during class is suggested. This tool prevents students from feeling that they are being corrected all the time. Teachers should allow HL speakers to participate in the class, role play, create leadership activities, and prepare fun activities (Minor, 2014, p. 206). Teachers can help overcome the different language ability levels in class by allowing stronger students to help weaker ones with class assessments, and learners will feel empowered by this experience. Fostering pride (Minor, 2014, p. 219) will be more beneficial to the students than teaching them vocabulary lists.

As it is mentioned above, a significant challenge for educators is the variability in proficiency levels of the students enrolling in classes. Proficiency may relate to the students’ attitudes towards the language, their motivation, and finally their level in the acquisition process (Minor, 2014, p. 206). Motivation and attitude play important roles in learning any language, and children as well as adults are sensitive to social dynamics and power relationships (Lightbown & Spada, 1993, p. 65)

5. Concluding Remarks

After recognizing the importance of maintaining HLs, actions should be taken to address the world's plurilingual reality and thus benefit from the linguistic hybridity of the 21st century (Garcia, 2005, p. 605). Although UNESCO has taken steps towards promoting HL education, its actual implementation varies greatly. In some countries HL education is made compulsory throughout primary and secondary school (e.g., Singapore), but in most countries it has relied upon individual schools and private institutions to introduce HL education.

Making the community aware of the value of HL education is a first step. Then, perhaps, we should start with small projects such as meetings with parent volunteers at local libraries. Next, HL education could be expanded into community programs like Sábados en Español.  Following that, mainstream schools could implement HL education as an extracurricular activity. Ideally, education policy makers can take note of examples such as Singapore and try to implement them in their own countries.

6. References

Ayala, A. (2015). Indigenous Language Policy in Taiwan. In Jackson, L. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Education for Sustainable Development. Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong/Master of Education Programme.

Council of Europe. (1998). European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.

García, O. (2005). Positioning Heritage Languages in the United States. The Modern Language Journal, 89(4), 601-605.

Hart-Gonzalez, L. & Feingold, M. (1990). Retention of Spanish in the Home. International Journal of the Sociology of Language84, 5-34.

Lightbown, P. M. & Spada, N. (1993). How Languages are Learned. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Minor, D. (2014). Heritage Language Learners. In López-Burton, N. & Minor, D. (Eds.), On Being a Language Teacher: A Personal and Practical Guide to Success (pp. 202-221). New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

NOB - Stichting Nederlands Onderwijs in het Buitenland. (n.d.).  NOB – Dutch Education Worldwide. Retrieved November 20, 2016, from

Potowski, K. (2012). Identity and Heritage Learners: Moving Beyond Essentializations. In Beaudrie, S. & Fairclough, M. (Eds.), Spanish as a Heritage Language in the United States: The State of the Field (pp. 179-200). Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.

Rivera-Mills, S. (2012). Spanish Heritage Language Maintenance: Its Legacy and its Future. In Beaudrie, S. & Fairclough, M. (Eds.), Spanish as a Heritage Language in the United States: The State of the Field (pp. 21-42). Washington DC: Georgetown University Press.

TED (2014, May 30). Charles Chang: Three Reasons to Preserve (and Develop) a Heritage Language [Video file]. Retrieved from ttps://   

TED (2013, May 3). Kim Potowski: No Child Left /monolingual [Video file]. Retrieved from

United Nations (UN). (n/d). Sustainable Development Goals: 17 Goals to Transform Our World. Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. Retrieved from

UNESCO (n/d). International Mother Language Day 21 February. Retrieved from

UNESCO (2016). If you don’t Understand, How can You Learn? Presentation delivered by Aaron Benavot at UNESCO's celebration of Mother Language Day 2016. Retrieved from

UNESCO (2005) First Language First: Community-based Literacy Programmes for Minority Language Contexts in Asia. Retrieved from

Valdés, G. (2000). Introduction. In Spanish for Native Speakers. AATSP Professional Development Series Handbook for Teachers K–16, Volume I. (pp.1-20). New York: Harcourt College.

7. Key Terms and Definitions

Auto-correction: is a practice in which the teacher engages with the student to help them get to the correct answer; this technique fosters pride and allows the student to assume a leadership role.

Corrective Feedback: is a practice in the classroom in which the teacher highlights a mistake made by the students and they in turn repeat the utterance correctly.

Heritage Language is used to identify languages other than the dominant language (or languages) in a given social context.

Mainstream:  the ideas, attitudes, or activities that are shared by most people and regarded as normal or conventional.

About the Author

Yuritzi Hernandez R.

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Childhood Cancer Education in Hong Kong

By Vinelle Leung

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Background

3. Child Cancer Education in Hong Kong

4. Conclusion

5. References

6. About the Author

1. Introduction

On September 25th 2015, United Nations (UN) member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the aim to ‘end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all’ have been set to be achieved within the next 15 years. Goal 3 seeks to ensure health and well-being for all as part of building sustainable societies. One of the targets of Goal 3 is to reduce premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases, including cancer, by one-third by 2030 (UN, 2016). 

In recent years cancer has emerged as a major health problem in Hong Kong. A total of 28,936 new cancer cases and 13,589 deaths were registered in the latest report of Hong Kong Cancer Registry in 2013 (HKCaR, 2015). Although cancer is most commonly diagnosed in older people, children (aged 0-19) represented a mere 0.8% of all new cancers, an average of about 200 new cases. Around one child in every 10,000, were diagnosed each year during the period of 2003 to 2013.  The record of the Children’s Cancer Foundation (CCF) (2015b) shows 169 new cases and 43 death cases in 2015. Childhood cancer stays a significant focus in public health because of its long-term side effects on children’s health throughout all stages of life and its social, economic, and environmental implications for the urban area.

Compared with technological and scientific progress, education is not the most immediate solution to premature mortality from cancer. However, education promotes understanding and nurtures empathy towards child cancer patients through raising public awareness and reducing the knowledge gap about the disease. 

This entry reviews life education at local secondary schools developed by the CCF, the largest children cancer support organisation in Hong Kong through the lens of transformative learning theory. Other childhood cancer organisations in Hong Kong such as Little Life Warriors Society and Children’s Catastrophic Disease Foundation are not discussed in this entry, but their meaningful work to the children and the society should not be undervalued.

2. Background

Among various types of childhood cancers, leukaemias, which are cancers of the bone marrow and blood, are the most common childhood cancers. They account for about 31% (54 cases) of total new childhood cancer cases in Hong Kong in 2014, followed by cancers of the brain, lymph glands, nerve cells, bone, and soft tissue tumours.

The diagnosis of cancer, with the life-threatening connotations, generates anxiety within patients and their family members. Psychological distress is observed among family members including feelings of despair, retreat, and helplessness (Thomas, 1978).

Childhood cancer is not contagious and over 70% are curable (Chronic Illness Alliance, 2016). However, many patients need to go through long and difficult treatments such as phases of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy, and in some cases, bone marrow and stem cell transplant. Although scientific and medical improvements increase the survival rates and reduce the adverse side effects of treatments, some patients still experience late effects which may impair survivors’ health and affect their quality of life (Chan, 2015). The most common late effects of childhood cancer are neuro-cognitive and psychological, cardiopulmonary, endocrine (e.g., those affecting growth and fertility), musculoskeletal, and second cancers. There is a growing appreciation of childhood cancer as a chronic disease with implications for continuing care, and thus the long-term survivorship experience impacts family members and the whole society (CCF, 2015b).

Research on the public perception of childhood cancers in Hong Kong is limited. Kuan’s (2000) study shows that the public has little knowledge about cancer, and, thus, might not understand the feelings and experiences of children who have cancer and their families. Childhood cancers are rare diseases in Hong Kong. Many caregivers shared their personal experience of being ‘stared at strangely’ and ‘asked annoying and discriminative questions’. They expressed the need to promote public awareness of cancer in children in order to reduce people’s misconceptions about cancers.

3. Child Cancer Education in Hong Kong

The Children’s Cancer Foundation in Hong Kong was established in 1989 by a group of patients’ family members, nurses, and other concerned individuals. One of the missions of the CCF is to improve the quality of life of child cancer patients and their families. The Family Service Centre of CCF reaches out to the community through media and publications, exhibitions, and Life Education for Schools talks at secondary schools (‘the Talks’). The Talks, titled “I Love My Life”, aim to enhance students’ knowledge and understanding towards childhood cancers, and to encourage young people to cherish their lives (CCF, 2013). They are designed in two parts: first, a registered nurse starts with an introduction of the medical aspects of childhood cancers; and next, a cancer survivor and his/her family member hold a session to discuss their experiences.

This approach employed by the CCF is informed by the transformative learning theory introduced by Mezirow (1991). He described that learners transform by ‘interpret[ing] and reinterpret[ing] their sense experience and structures of assumptions through their sense experience’. When experience is too strange or threatening to the way we think or learn, we tend to block it out (‘cognitive distortion’) or interpret it in a compatible way (‘defence mechanism’). Cancers are rarely diagnosed in children, which means that children and their caregivers lack experience and knowledge to interpret the meaning of cancers to their lives and communicate it to the public. Although with the improvement of technology, treatments for cancers have evolved and many cancers are curable, fear towards the disease persists. Leukemias and brain cancers, which have a relatively lower survival rate compared with other types of cancers, have often been dramatised and the adverse effects and symptoms are exaggeratedly emphasised in mass media such as newspapers, movies, songs, novels, and TV drama series. These have reinforced misperceptions of cancers and strengthened the negative association between cancers, death, and the loss of loved ones.

The process of transformation may not necessary solve medical problems but it may challenge one’s meaning structure, the broad sets of predispositions which limit people’s expectations, perceptions, and assumptions (Mezirow, 1997, p. 5); and most importantly, it may reduce unnecessary additional damage to families due to communication barriers and lack of basic knowledge about childhood cancers. A mother who has a child with cancer shared with Kuan (2000):

…when people asked what is the matter with her, I said she's sick. I don't say that it's cancer. For the friends who are not close enough, I don't need to explain, because I'm too tired. If you talk to a friend, there'll be a lot of questions. Why did she get this disease? How's she at the beginning? Talk too much, very tired, really tired. (p. 306)

Learning involves a range of experiences in which knowledge is socially and collaboratively constructed. In this sense it is a process of listening, questioning, relating, symbolising, feeling, and reflecting. Central to Mezirow’s transformative learning theory is the making of meaning and reflection which enables learners to correct distortions in their beliefs and errors in problem-solving. In his words, learning is ‚the process of making a new or revised interpretation of the meaning of an experience, which guides subsequent understanding, appreciation and action’ (p. 1).

In line with this view, the aims of the Talks are to provide basic medical knowledge about childhood cancers, rectify misunderstandings, and eventually change the attitudes and behaviours of secondary school students toward patients and their family members (CCF, 2015a). The Talks consist of two parts: instrumental learning and reflection through life stories.

  • Instrumental Learning

In instrumental learning, people reflect on their own understanding and knowledge of the world through empirical evidence and ensure that their underlying assumptions are correct (Mezirow, 2011). The first part of the Talks is straight-forward. A registered nurse gives a factual introduction about childhood cancers in Hong Kong in order to lay a knowledge base and guide secondary school students (the audience) to proceed to a higher level of learning about childhood cancers. Beyond the construction of knowledge, the nurse answers questions and debunks misperceptions with facts and empirical evidence. The students thus learn what to do as educated people and work to control any unfavourable behaviours when they meet a family with a child who has cancer. Rademacher (2004) describes this approach as ‘a scientific way of knowing’ and ‘a very pragmatic aspect’ of such a kind of learning.

  • Reflection through Life Stories

In the second part of the Talks, survivors share their paths of overcoming the shock of learning that they have a cancer, painful treatment, their methods of coping and motivating themselves to fight for survival, and their reflections. All these stories are presented to students through storytelling. The storytelling approach is an inclusive communication where learners are invited to engage in an organic dialogue with educators (Tyler & Swartz, 2012). When students listen to the Talks, they are invited to debunk their original thoughts about the disease, imagine themselves as survivors in different stages, and develop empathy towards patients. Sometimes, videos and photos of childhood cancer patients are added to amplify a holistic message to audiences.

Building on personal stories about the disease, survivors encourage students to open their minds towards the topic of ‘death' as the diseases is seen through the lens of death. The stories bring in new perspectives to challenge the default assumptions about cancer and death, and create new meanings.

I don’t afraid of death! I have experienced a lot and I can still stand on this stage. I have earned my days. Death may come anyhow and no one can stop it. I had a few times of near-death experience so I am not afraid of it!… My cancer has recurred for a few times but I am still alive. I am very lucky comparing to my friends who died. Because of them I cherish every day and live happily so I will not disappoint them.

Extracted from the conversation with survivor Angel Mui (CCF, 2013)

Centred in the life stories is a message of ‘where there’s life, there’s hope’ (CCF, 2015a, p. 75) — to inspire students to face adversity and help them develop a positive view of life through spreading encouraging experiences. It is a journey of rediscovering hope in one’s life. Some of the survivors are of similar age to the students, which strengthens the association between the survivors and the students when they act on some aspects of engagement throughout the Talks. Students can ask questions and relate the life experiences of the survivors to their own.

4. Conclusion

 The beauty of the transformative learning process is its objective to find coherence in and redefine meaning of forces and relations that make up our lives (Fowler, 1981). By adopting Mezirow’s (1991) transformative learning theory, the Talks is a comprehensive project that meets the aims to promote public awareness of cancer in children and to reduce people’s misconceptions about the disease. Many secondary schools have been enthusiastically signing up for the Talks since its first session in July 2008, and there is a waiting list of around three months (at the time of this publication). CCF has been carefully evaluating the situation of survivors and their family members and selecting appropriate ones to share their life stories.

Childhood cancer is not a topic for all. It is a technical topic of medical knowledge and an emotional discussion about life and death. Secondary school students, i.e. the audience of the Talks, are expected to have prerequisite communicative and reflective abilities in order to bring in new knowledge and experience to ‘an already well-developed symbolic frame of reference’ (Mezirow, 2002, p.10). As suggested by Mezirow (1991), transformative learning is the focus rather than the outcome. Nevertheless, it should be noted that it is challenging to evaluate transformations that take place in secondary school students after they participate in the Talks. Further research is required to study effectiveness of the Talks and social misperceptions towards childhood cancers which students may still accept after.

Hong Kong's first Children Hospital will be commissioning in 2017 (Hospital Authority, 2016). It is hoped that the city will have an advancement in the provision of medical care to children and a more comprehensive support in the community through education and community service.

5. References

Chan, Y. W. (2015). Quality of Life and Morbidities of Childhood Cancer Survivors in Hong Kong. Retrieved from

Children’s Cancer Foundation (2013). Newsletter. Retrieved from

Children’s Cancer Foundation (2015a). The Triumph of Hope. Hong Kong: Children’s Cancer Foundation.

Children’s Cancer Foundation. (2015b). Childhood Cancer Facts and Figures. Retrieved November 16, 2016, from Children’s Cancer Foundation,

Chronic Illness Alliance. (2016). Cancer. Retrieved November 2, 2016, from Chronic Illness Alliance,

Cranton, P., & Hoggan, C. (2012). Evaluating Transformative Learning. In The Handbook of Transformative Learning (pp. 520–535). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Fowler, J. W. (1981). Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning (1st ed.). San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row.

Gillis, S., & Griffin, P. (2008). Competency Assessment. In J. Athanasou (Ed.). Adult Education and Training (pp. 233–256). Sydney: David Barlow Publishing.

Hong Kong Cancer Registry. (2015). Hong Kong Cancer Registry, Hospital Authority. Retrieved October 15, 2016, from

Hospital Authority. (2016, February ). Hong Kong Children’s Hospital. Retrieved November 2, 2016, from Hong Kong Children’s Hospital,

Kuan, H. Y. (2000). Identifying the Needs of Chinese Family Caregivers of Children with Cancer in Hong Kong. Retrieved from

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative Dimensions of Adult Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc., U.S.

Mezirow, J. (2002). Transformative Learning: Theory to Practice Transformative Learning Theory. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education5–12. Retrieved from

Mezirow, J. (2011, July). Fostering Critical Reflection in Adulthood. A Guide to Transformative and Emancipatory Learning ‘How Critical Reflection triggers Transformative Learning. Retrieved from[ref]How%20Critical%20Reflection%20triggers%20Transformative%20Learning%20-%20Mezirow.pdf

O’Neil, J., & Marsick, V. J. (2007). Understanding Action Learning. New York, NY: AMACOM.

Rademacher, L. (2004). Learning to Learn: A Philosophical Guide to Learning. United States: iUniverse, Inc.

Tyler, J. A., & Swartz, A. L. (2012). Storytelling and Transformative Learning. In The Handbook of Transformative Learning (pp. 455–470). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

United Nations. (2016, August ). Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved November 1, 2016, from

About the Author

Vinelle Leung

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Sleep Problems and Sleep Education for Adolescents in Hong Kong

By Luo Yu

Table of Contents

 1. Introduction

2. Background: Sleep Disorders

3. Sleep Problems among Adolescent Students in Hong Kong

4. Sleep Education as a Solution

5. Recommendations for Sleep Education in Hong Kong

6. Conclusion

7. References

8. Key Terms and Definitions

9. About the Author

1. Introduction

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, set up 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Promotion of mental health and well-being is one of the targets outlined in Goal 3. Psychological problems, such as anxiety and depression, can lead to suicide. Suicide is reported as the second leading cause of death among young people in the 15-29 age group (United Nations, 2016). Studies have shown that long-term sleep problems are positively associated with such psychological problems (Adrien, 2002; Breslau et al.,1996; Richdale, 1999). However, sleep problems are often overlooked by people.

Students in Hong Kong bear a heavy academic burden which may result in sleep problems (Chung & Cheung, 2008). Even though many adolescent students suffer from sleep disturbance, sleep education in Hong Kong only started recently, and various difficulties have been encountered in launching such educational programs. Although sleep education provides adolescents with knowledge about sleep, few consistent outcomes have been observed in improving sleep after sleep education programs (Chan, 2016). The effect of sleep education remains unclear.

This entry begins by explaining different forms of sleep disorder. It then discusses the factors that affect sleep and the current situation of sleep problems among Hong Kong adolescent students. After that, sleep education as a possible solution, and its function and effectiveness in a global context and in Hong Kong, are examined.

2. Background: Sleep Disorders

According to the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, there are three main types of sleep disorders (American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 2014) and they include:

  • Insomnia

Insomnia, also called sleeplessness, is typically characterized by difficulty in initiating and/or maintaining sleep. Usually, people who suffer from insomnia also wake too early and cannot get insufficient amounts of nocturnal sleep.

  • Sleep-Related Breathing Disorder

Dysfunctional sleep breathing is the characteristic feature of sleep-related breathing disorder. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type of this disorder, causes inadequate breathing during sleep. Snoring is often seen as a symptom of this disorder.

  • Parasomnia

Parasomnia involves abnormal movements, behavior, emotions, perceptions, and dreams that accompany sleep. Sleepwalking and teeth grinding, for example, belong to this kind of sleep disorder.

3. Sleep Problems among Adolescent Students in Hong Kong

Sleep is a complicated activity that interplays with environmental, physiological and psychological factors. Though the relationship between many sleep-related behaviors and sleep quality remain ambiguous and some factors are in common (e.g. age, gender, family communication, etc.) in adolescents all over the world, there are significant external factors which are relevant to Hong Kong youth.

People spend almost one-third of their lifetime in sleeping. Adolescents, at their transitional stage of physical and psychological development, need more sleep than adults. Nevertheless, sleep deprivation is prevalent among adolescent students in Hong Kong. An epidemiological study has pointed out that the average sleep time among 1629 Hong Kong secondary school students was only 7.3 hours during school nights (Chung & Cheung, 2008), less than the 8 to 9 hours which is commonly suggested for adolescents (National Sleep Foundation, 2000). From 2006 to 2008, the Hong Kong Student Obesity Surveillance (HKSOS) project investigated 22,678 Chinese adolescent students aged 12 to 18 on sociodemographic characteristics, sleep patterns and problems etc. As it demonstrated, only 27.4% of the participants slept more than 8 hours on school nights. Most insomnia disorders involved difficulty in initiating sleep (12.3%), followed by difficulty in maintaining sleep (8.8%) and early morning awakening (7.2%) in the case of participating students (Mak et al., 2012). Another investigation completed by 529 Hong Kong college students indicated that 68.6% of the participants were insomniacs (Sing and Wong, 2010). Accordingly, insomnia is very common among Hong Kong students.

Academic Stress is a major factor in adolescent sleep disorders in Hong Kong. Recent decades have witnessed an increasing academic load for adolescent students (Bjorkman, 2007; Kaplan et al., 2005). Chung and Cheung’s (2008, p. 193) study shows ‘that high perceived stress was the most significant risk factor for sleep disturbance among secondary school students in Hong Kong’. They also discovered that students who have marginal academic performance usually sleep less during the school week than students with better grades. Student in different stages of their studies also demonstrate different sleep quality norms because each study year may have various academic and life pressures. For example, university students in the first and the third years of study are reported to have more sleep problems (Suen et al., 2008).

Academic pressure is not only one major significant risk factor for sleep disorder among adolescent students, it also has an impact on students’ psychological health, as it causes anxiety and depression. Sleep problems exacerbate these mental disorders, and anxiety and depression lead to poorer sleep quality and thus academic performance. Each of these is in an interrelated web of relationship (see Figure 1.).

Figure 1  Relationship between Sleep Problem, Academic Pressure, and Mental Disorders

Figure 1 Relationship between Sleep Problem, Academic Pressure, and Mental Disorders

As a preventative measure, sleep hygiene practice includes different actions that can be taken before sleep or during the daytime to enhance sleep health. Such actions as night eating, drinking alcohol, beverage containing caffeine or dairy product, taking naps during the daytime, performing active exercise, and using electronic devices before sleep may all lead to poorer sleep quality and even insomnia. A survey conducted with 400 university students in Hong Kong found that students who self-reported to have poorer sleep quality got significant lower average scores in sleep hygiene practice assessments (Suen et al., 2008).

4. Sleep Education as a Solution

Education can raise awareness and disseminate knowledge about sleep and thus sleep education is a potential solution to address sleep disorders. Some studies show that psycho-education programs are an effective means in helping the clinical insomnia population (Morin et al., 1994; Murtagh & Greenwood, 1995). Sleep education can increase the level of knowledge about sleep hygiene, sleep patterns, and other related issues.

Sleep education is in its infancy stage. In 2012, a study (Blunden et al., 2012) identified 12 programs in sleep education. Another research designed to assess the prevalence of sleep education in 409 medical schools reported that the average amount of time spent on sleep education in these medical schools is less than 2.5 hours (Mindell et al., 2011). The theoretical underpinning of sleep education is also to be developed.

Additionally, the consistent efficacy of sleep education remains highly complex. The most salient progress observed among all programs was the increase of knowledge about sleep hygiene. The overall sleep parameters across studies had little changes, however. Only 2 studies reported specific improvement in sleep duration. The Sleep Smart program found that adolescents in the intervention group reported more regular sleep-wake patterns during weekdays and weekends after sleep education (Rossi, 2002). In short, sleep education programs for youth improved their knowledge about sleep, while there is less consistent improvement in sleep duration or sleep hygiene. Other findings indicated that good sleep hygiene knowledge is weakly associated with good sleep hygiene practice (Brown et al., 2002). This may partly explain why sleep education program cannot contribute much to good sleep behavior and sleep quality.

Sleep education in Hong Kong is thus in its earliest stage. Only one program on sleep education for Hong Kong adolescent students has been identified. This program, conducted by a team of academics and students in universities in Hong Kong, aims to increase sleep knowledge and promote good sleep practice among school-aged children and teenagers. Twelve primary school and fourteen secondary school students took part in the program. The intervention group which contained 14 randomized schools had seminars, workshops, slogan and painting competitions, and other activities during the three months of the sleep education program. More than 400 workshops and 40 seminars taught by specialists and trained research assistants were held during the campaign. Their topics varied from factors of sleep loss to time and stress management skills. This program also provided teachers and parents with a seminar on sleep knowledge. The outcomes demonstrated that the program was effective in increasing sleep knowledge and improved, at least in short term, adolescent behaviors, psychological health and healthy lifestyle practices. However, it did not clearly achieve its second goal, that is, to change sleep practice.

A few challenges were discussed by the program team. First, before launching this program, all primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong were invited, but most school principals found it difficult to add additional lessons to school and teachers’ schedules. In the end, only 26 schools participated in the project. Second, only 10% of parents attended the seminar designed and provided to them. This indicates that most schools and parents lack awareness of the importance of sleep and sleep education for their children, and prioritize their children’s schoolwork and other activities over sleep health (Chan, 2016).

5. Recommendations for Sleep Education in Hong Kong

Researchers have noted that the outcomes of sleep education are not ideal. There is an increase of knowledge level but no change in sleep parameters. One of the issues identified is that there is no theoretical foundation for such educational programs (Blunden et al., 2012). Blunden et al. (2012) constructed an integrated model of behavior change (see Figure 2). Along with knowledge, motivation is suggested as the very first step before planning a strategy (Azjen, 2002). Apart from knowledge attainment and motivation, however, participants’ attitudes to their behaviors and their subjective norms contribute to behavioral change. For example, whether an adolescent decides to change his/her sleep hygiene practice would depend on his/her understanding of the effects of the behavior, attitude to the current behavior, intent and motivation to change, and the consideration of its importance and his/her readiness to change it.

Figure 2  Representation of an integrated model of behavior change (Adapted from Azjen)

Figure 2 Representation of an integrated model of behavior change (Adapted from Azjen)

Additionally, sleep disorders are not only a problem related to adolescents, but should be prioritized by parents, school teachers, and friends. It is suggested that an informal alliance among students, schools, and parents should be built to achieve greater understanding and results. The Committee of Home-School Co-operation (CHSC) in Hong Kong could play a vital role in blending sleep education in forums, dialogues and other activities. Furthermore, a communicative and mutual-supervisory relationship could be built among adolescent students so that students are able to change their sleep-related behavior under peer motivation and pressure.

Likewise, the government should not be absent in the promotion of sleep education. As mentioned earlier, a heavy academic burden is one of the most significant factors that leads to sleep deprivation. Therefore, the government could set out guidelines to adjust curriculum and assignments to improve the situation. On the other hand, sleep education can also be included into the hidden curriculum, e.g., with rearrangement of the school timetable, organizing sleep education related activities, and providing extracurricular books about sleep health, etc. Other strategies to increase and enhance sleep education need to be explored by different stakeholders.

6. Conclusion

In consideration of the close association of sleep problems and mental illness among adolescents, more attention to sleep quality in adolescents should be granted. Many Hong Kong youth face serious sleep problems, due to academic pressure and other factors. Education, which is usually considered as one of the solutions to address many sustainable developmental issues, can provide more knowledge to adolescent students and help youth obtain better sleep in a short period. However, existing studies have shown that sleep education programs thus far have brought less than consistent success in relation to enhancing sleep behavior and sleep duration. The effect of sleep education in youth is still complicated in many ways. Based on the integrated model of behavior change theory, elements for changing adolescent sleep behavior can be proposed and implemented with the cooperation and support of schools, parents and students.

7. References

Adrien, J. (2002). Neurobiological Bases for the Relation between Sleep and Depression. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 6, 341–351. Doi:10.1053/smrv.2001.020

Ajzen I, Saunders J, Davis LE, & Williams T. (2002). The Decision of African American Students to Complete High School: An Application of the Theory of Planned Behavior. Journal of Educational   Psychology; 94(810e9). Doi: 10.1037//0022-0663.94.4.810

American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2014). International Classification of Sleep Disorders, third edition (ICSD-3). Darien: Illinois.

Bjorkman, S. M. (2007). Relationships among Academic Stress, Social Support, and Internalizing and Externalizing Behavior in Adolescence. Northern Illinois University.

Blunden, S. L., Chapman, J., & Rigney, G. A. (2012). Are Sleep Education Programs Successful? The Case for Improved and Consistent Research Efforts. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 16(4), 355-370. Doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2011.08.002

Breslau, N., Roth, T., Rosenthal, L., & Andreski, P. (1996). Sleep Disturbance and Psychiatric Disorders: A Longitudinal Epidemiological Study of Young Adults. Biological Psychiatry, 39, 411–418.

Brown FC, Buboltz WC, Jr, & Soper B. (2002). Relationship of Sleep Hygiene Awareness, Sleep Hygiene Practices, and Sleep Quality in University Students. Behavior Medicine, 28, 33–38.

Chan, D. W. (1997). Depressive Symptoms and Perceived Competence among Chinese Secondary School Students in Hong Kong. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 26(3), 303-319. Doi: 10.1007/s10964-005-0004-4

Chan, N. Y., Lam, S. P., Zhang, J., Yu, M. W. M., Li, S. X., Li, A. M., & Wing, Y. K. (2016). Sleep Education in Hong Kong. Sleep and Biological Rhythms, 14(1), 21-25. Doi 10.1007/s41105-015-0008-8

Chung, K.F. & Cheung, M.M. (2008). Sleep-wake Patterns and Sleep Disturbance among Hong Kong Chinese Adolescents. Sleep, 31(2):185-194.

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8. Key Terms and Definitions

Adolescent studenta person in the 11-21 age group (Kliegman et al., 2007). It is a transitional stage when physical and psychological changes occur, bringing up self-identity and independence.

About the Author

Luo Yu

MEd, The University of Hong Kong

Email: luoyu.2017@

Enhancing Education for Sustainable Development at Hong Kong Wetland Park

By Anonymous

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Education for Sustainable Development

3. Hong Kong Wetland Park

4. Challenges to Promoting ESD in HKWP

5. Recommendations for Teachers and HKWP

6. Concluding Remarks

7. References

8. Key Terms and Definitions

9. About the Author

1. Introduction

The Hong Kong Wetland Park (HKWP) displays biodiversity of the local wetland ecosystem to raise public awareness about wetland conservation and environment protection. The government considers HKWP as a facility for ecotourism, conservation, and education. The Park has a significant influence on environmental education, delivering over 700 guided tours to about 170,000 students just in 2014-2015 alone (HKWP, 2016a). This aim of this entry is to review some of the HKWP’s facilities from the angle of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) using Vare and Scott’s (2007) framework about teaching knowledge (ESD1) and skills (ESD2) in ESD.  The entry then argues that teachers’ adaptation of existing educational resources and HKWP’s advancement are crucial to harness the Park’s ESD potential to encourage social awareness, lifelong learning, and personal responsibility.

2. Education for Sustainable Development

The UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.7 indicates that countries should ‘ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development’ (United Nations (UN), 2016a). Education is ‘indispensable to changing people’s attitudes so that they have the capacity to assess and address their sustainable development concerns’ (UN, 1993, Chapter 36). On this front, HKWP provides informal environmental education through engaging visitors in activities, with the following educational objectives (HKWP, 2016f):

  • to demonstrate the diversity of Hong Kong's wetland ecosystem and highlight the need to conserve it; and
  • to provide opportunities for education and public awareness.

In the formal education context, the Education Bureau (EDB) suggests schools develop ESD in three aspects: “awareness”, “action” and “attitudes” (EDB, 2010, p.2). “Awareness” concerns learners’ knowledge and skills of the environment. “Action” refers to the educational processes where learners make contact with nature. “Attitudes” involve the ‘values and judgement that affect behaviour’ (Curriculum Development Council (CDC), 1999, p.4). Site visit is a popular informal educational activity which complements formal learning about the three aspects (Guevara, 2009; CDC, 1999), and HKWP can thus supplement formal education with its habitats and educational resources (Guevara, 2009). Although not stated, HKWP's objectives and EDB's notion both contribute to SDGs 13 and 15, which aim for an improved awareness about and subsequent conservation actions for climate change, natural habitats, biodiversity as well as land and water ecosystems (UN, 2016b, 2016c). HKWP’s contribution to formal education and SDGs could be enhanced through implementing ESD with a more holistic view that does not only recognise “prescribed knowledge” (Sterling, 2004, p. 70) but also treasures what each learner ‘bring[s] to the learning experience’ (p. 70) such as rethinking and challenging existing social structures, educational values and public policies. 

Similarly, Vare and Scott (2007) observed that policymakers and government departments tend to focus on expert knowledge and prescribed actions instead of the need to promote learning as an outcome itself to achieve sustainability. To redress the balance, they suggest an ESD framework with two complementary approaches, ESD1 and ESD2. ESD1 promotes behavourial and cognitive changes informed by expert knowledge among the non-expert public for clearly defined sustainable issues (Vare & Scott, 2007). It considers learning as a means to acquire necessary knowledge and abilities to achieve sustainable development – learning for sustainable development (Vare & Scott, 2007). ESD2 promotes critical thinking about expert knowledge, and examining the ideas and contradictions relating to sustainable development (Vare & Scott, 2007). It considers learning an outcome in order to cope with the perpetually changing society and environment – learning as sustainable development (Vare & Scott, 2007). ESD1 and ESD2 are complementary to each other not only for promoting normative actions but also critically analysing and negotiating such actions. ESD1 combined with ESD2 could promotes open-end and lifelong learning in addition to prescribed knowledge and practical skills (Hopkins & McKeown, 2002).

3. Hong Kong Wetland Park

HKWP comprises a 10 ,00m2 visitor centre and a 60-hectare Wetland Reserve (the floor plan of Visitor Centre is at Figure 1 and the map of Wetland Reserve at Figure 2), and provides a diversity of educational programmes for different target groups.

Figure 1  Floor plan of Visitor Centre (HKWP, 2016c)

Figure 1 Floor plan of Visitor Centre (HKWP, 2016c)

Figure 2  Map of Wetland Reserve (HKWP, 2016d)

Figure 2 Map of Wetland Reserve (HKWP, 2016d)

The Wetland Reserve mainly includes habitats for waterbirds, such as mangroves, waterstreams and fishponds, with numerous walking paths and educational signage for visitors' access. The Visitor Centre includes themed exhibition galleries. Examples of HKWP’s educational facilities are (HKWP, 2016b, 2016h):

  • Wetlands at Work - the living fields display the origins of common agricultural products in daily life;
  • Stream Walk - it demonstrates a re-created stream habitat with an upland stream, middle reaches and an open water, with signs, specimen and replicas which introduce the local wildlife;
  • Mangrove Boardwalk - visitors can walk on floating boards to take a close look at the plants and animals inhabiting the mangroves, with introductory signs nearby;
  • Human Culture Gallery - visitors could play interactive games on-screen, watch videos and view exhibition displays to discover how wetland and natural resources are depicted and used in different cultures; and
  • Wetland Challenge Gallery - visitors could join a make-believe television centre that explores issues on wetland conservation along an imaginary river, discovering environmental threats due to human activities in the role of a reporter.

HKWP also provides educational programmes targeting students, teachers, and the general public. According to HKWP’s (2016e) website, visitors could “learn about the knowledge on wetlands in a vivid way, and appreciate the beauty of different wetland wildlife” (para. 1) through the activities and teaching resources also available online. On-site programmes include public lectures, guided visits, park ranger training, and teachers’ workshops while out-reach programmes include educational talks and lending educational display panels to schools (HKWP, 2016e). The types of programmes and their objectives are summarised in Table 1 (HKWP, 2016e).

Screenshot (419).png
Screenshot (420).png
Table 1  Educational Programmes at HKWP

Table 1 Educational Programmes at HKWP

4. Challenges to Promoting ESD in HKWP

To borrow from the Audit Commission’s (2011) words, HKWP might have conflicting practices ‘as a conservation, education and tourism facility’ (p.11), where the facilities may not be consistent with the knowledge and notions it promotes in terms of ESD1. One example is the vending machines advertising and selling bottled drinks while the exhibitions in the Visitor Centre emphasise the harm caused by relying on such products. Furthermore, most electronic displays and spotlights in the exhibitions function and use power even when there are no visitors viewing them, in contradiction to the Wetland Challenge Gallery focus on wetland conservation and reducing electricity use. Learners could be confused by the hidden assumptions demonstrated through such conflicting practices.

Furthermore, most exhibitions and educational programmes follow a limited, ESD1 approach, which presents scientific knowledge and technical solutions and actions to be pursued by individuals (Sterling, 2004; Vare & Scott, 2007). For example, the “Too Much from the Wild” section in Wetland Challenge Gallery displays various household products that exploit wetland resources and asks learners to change their daily behaviours (HKWP, 2016g). Such an arrangement might ignore other important human factors, however, such as ‘quality of life’ or ‘social need’ concerns (Robottom, 1983, p. 29). After all, sustainability cannot be achieved only through environment protection, as it is intertwined with other domains such as social justice, cultural diversity, and economic viability (UNESCO, 2014). Besides, while personal choices might make a difference to the existing environmental problems, they should not be reduced to only personal responsibility (Maniates, 2001). Exhibitions and programmes with ESD2 elements would enable learners to critically reflect on the knowledge and recommendations HKWP promotes and ‘make sound choices in the face of the inherent complexity and uncertainty of the future’ (Vare & Scott, 2007, p. 194).

Most educational programmes and Park facilities engage learners through observation and listening - learners are expected to consume knowledge about the environment. However, learners also need to go beyond the roles of bystanders and receivers of environmental knowledge to develop respect for and reflection on human life’s influence and interaction with nature (Fien, 1993). After all, they should not have the “out of sight, out of mind” attitude towards the environment after leaving HKWP. Fundamentally, a more engaging experience could harness the “action” and “attitudes” aspects suggested by EDB (2010) and serve as a foreground for reflecting on environment-related issues such as politics and economy (Gruenewald, 2003). In this connection, new initatives with ESD2 elements should enable learners ‘to continue learning after they leave school’ (Hopkins & McKeown, 2002, p.19), motivating a kind of lifelong learning that ‘involves issues that affect all, both young and old, … throughout life’ (Trorey, Cullingford, & Cooper, 1999, p. 195).

5. Recommendations for Teachers and HKWP

First, HKWP could organise regular inventory and exchange sessions such as meetings between learners and the Park management for discussion on the Park’s facilities and programmes which are related to the ESD1 knowledge and values. Learners could have the opportunities ‘to think critically and feel empowered to take responsibility’ (Vare & Scott, 2007, p. 194) through reviewing the elements of ESD1 in HKWP.  Furthermore, they could develop social and political literacy through discussing the practical limitations with the staff and even lobbying for recommendations, which are crucial elements for ESD2 (Trorey et al., 1999). HKWP could also encourage reflection on ‘what the sustainability lobby and government are telling [learners] to do’ (Vare & Scott, 2007, p. 196).

Second, to engage learners in long-term environment protection, HKWP could enhance its educational programmes with civic ecology practices requiring commitment of participants, advocacy, and social interaction, treating learning as an active process (Hogan, 2002; Boullion & Gomez, 2001). HKWP could allow more visitors to participate in the farming and maintenance work, for example, so that visitors taking the role of farmers and park rangers could reflect on the dilemmas in sustainable living and try innovative solutions (Beltram, Gerjevic, & Kebe, 2009; Vare & Scott, 2007), such as selecting pesticides and removing invasive species (Krasny, Lundholm, Shava, Lee, & Kobori, 2013). Aligned with social learning, structured educational activities where experienced staff and novice learners interact in a community of practice could provide scaffolding for learners to grow from ‘an observer … to a full or skilled participant’ (Krasny et al., 2013, p. 642). Such skilled participants then could make informed choices and innovations through recognising personal responsibility and necessary risks (Elliot, 1998).

HKWP and schools could more generally cooperate to enhance a volunteer programme to promote lifelong and life-wide responsibilities at different levels. ‘[ESD] brings together all the learning that a person does throughout life, in both formal and informal settings’ (Clarke, 2012, p. 34) and ‘volunteering and community involvement are … necessary’ (Trorey et al., 1999, p. 202). While participants receive professional training at HKWP, schools could provide such ESD2 experiences as debating and organising recycling and other ecological campaigns and activities in neighbourhoods, considering that ‘school grounds are … an excellent starting point’ (Trorey et al., 1999, 208) for nurturing lifelong commitment to environmental protection and recognition of citizenship.

6. Concluding Remarks

This entry serves to elaborate some possible pathways for enhancing both ESD1 and ESD2 through the HKWP. These recommendations may meet with some practical and technical barriers, however, as HKWP may need a culture of change in its established practices and staff literacy about ESD (Gough & Scott, 2001). Teachers of a particular subject may also be challenged by new initiatives which require collaboration across various subjects (Gough & Scott, 2001). While there is no universal solution for all, as Trorey et al. (1999) put it, the success of ESD lies ‘in the nature of personal commitment, and belief in its importance’ (p. 209). To this end, both teachers and HKWP may need to keep reflecting and innovating to ensure ESD is well in place in formal, informal, and lifelong learning.

7. References

Audit Commission. (2011). Report No. 57 of the Director of Audit: Management of the Hong Kong Wetland Park. Retrieved December 23, 2016, from

Beltram, G., Gerjevic, V. D., & Kebe L. (2009). Young People Acting for the Wise Use of Karst Wetlands in Slovenia. In P. B. Corcoran & P. M. Osano (Eds.), Young People, Education, and Sustainable Development: Exploring Principles, Perspectives, and Praxis (pp. 309-314). Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers.

Boullion, L. M., & Gomez, L. M. (2001). Connecting School and Community with Science Learning: Real World Problems and School-Community Partnerships as Contextual Scaffolds. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38, 878-898.

Clarke, P. (2012). Education for Sustainability: Becoming Naturally Smart. London: Routledge.

Education Bureau (EDB). (2010). Education for Sustainable Development in Hong Kong Schools (EPSC Paper 08/10). Hong Kong: EDB.

Elliott, J. (1998). The Curriculum Experiment: Meeting the Challenge of Social Change. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Fien, J. (1993). Education for the Environment: Critical Curriculum Theorising and Environmental Education. Geelonng: Deakin University.

Gough, S. R., & Scott, W. A. H. (2001). Curriculum Development and Sustainable Development: Practices, Institutions and Literacies. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 33(2), 137-152. Doi: 10.1080/00131850120040528

Gruenewald, D. (2003). The Best of Both Worlds: A Critical Pedagogy of Place. Educational Researcher, 32(4), 3-12.

Guevara, J. (2009). Embedding Formal Education within the Contexts of Non-formal Education for Lifelong Learning and Sustainable Development. In P. F. Geinare (Ed.), Recent Trends in Life Long Education (pp. 101-110). New York: Nova Science Publishers.

CDC. (1999). The Guidelines on Environmental Education in Schools. Hong Kong: Education Department.

Hong Kong Wetland Park (HKWP). (2016a). Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department Report (2014-2015): Nature Conservation. Retrieved December 23, 2016, from

Hong Kong Wetland Park (HKWP). (2016b). Exhibitions. Retrieved December 23, 2016, from

Hong Kong Wetland Park (HKWP). (2016c) Map of Visitor Centre. Retrieved December 23, 2016, from

Hong Kong Wetland Park (HKWP). (2016d). Map of Wetland Reserve. Retrieved December 23, 2016, from

Hong Kong Wetland Park (HKWP). (2016e). Learning at Wetland. Retrieved December 23, 2016, from

Hong Kong Wetland Park (HKWP). (2016f). Mission and Objective. Retrieved December 23, 2016, from

Hong Kong Wetland Park (HKWP). (2016g). Wetland Challenge. Retrieved December 23, 2016, from

Hong Kong Wetland Park (HKWP). (2016h). Wetland Reserve. Retrieved December 23, 2016, from

Hogan, K. (2002). A Sociocultural Analysis of School and Community Setting as Sites for Developing Environmental Practitioners. Environmental Education Research, 8, 413-437.

Hopkins, C., & Mckeown, R. (1999). Education for Sustainable Development: An International Perspective. In D. Tilbury, R. B. Stevenson, J. Fien & D. Schreuder (Eds.), Education and Sustainability: Responding to a Global Challenge (pp 13-24). Gland: International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Krasny, M. E., Lundholm, C., Shava, S., Lee, E., & Kobori, H. (2013) Urban Landscapes as Learning Arenas for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Management. In T. Elmqvist, M. Fragkias, J. Goodness, B. Güneralp, P. J. Marcotullio, R. I. McDonald, S. Parnell, M. Schewenius, M. Sendstad, K. C. Seto & C. Wilkinson (Eds.), Urbanization, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Challenges and Opportunities (pp 629-664). Dordrecht: Springer.

Maniates, M. F. (2001). Individualization: Plant a Tree, Buy a Bike, Save the World? Global Environmental Politics, 1(3), 31-52.

Robottom, I. (1983). Science: A Limited whole for Environmental Education? The Australian Science Teachers’ Journal, 29(1), 27-31.

Sterling, S. (2004). The Learning of Ecology, or the Ecology of Learning? In W. Scott & S. Gough (eds.), Key Issues in Sustainable Development and Learning: A Critical Review. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Trorey, G., Cullingford, C., & Cooper, B. (1999) Lifelong Learning for a Sustainable Future. In P. Oliver (Ed.), Lifelong and Continuing Education: What is a Learning Society (pp 195-214). Brookfield: Ashgate/Arena.

UNESCO. (2014). Roadmap for Implementing the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development. Retrieved December 23, 2016, from

United Nations (UN). (1993). Agenda 21: The United Nations Programme of Action from Rio. New York: United Nations.

United Nations (UN). (2016a). Goal 4: Ensure Inclusive and Quality Education for All and Promote Lifelong Learning. Retrieved December 23, 2016, from

United Nations (UN). (2016b). Goal 13: Take Urgent Action to Combat Climate Change and its Impacts. Retrieved December 23, 2016, from

United Nations (UN). (2016c). Goal 15: Sustainably Manage Forests, Combat Desertification, Halt and Reverse Land Degradation, Halt Biodiversity Loss. Retrieved December 23, 2016, from

Vare, P., & Scott, W. (2007). Learning for Change: Exploring Relationship between Education and Sustainable Development. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 1(2), 191-198.

8. Key Terms and Definition

ESD1/ESD2: A complementary set of approaches to ESD which stresses the importance of both knowledge and skills for sustainable development.

Wetland: A land area seasonally or permanently saturated with fresh or saltwater, forming a distinctive ecosystem with high biodiversity.

Civic Ecology: A field of study that focuses on the relationship about public participation and its effects in environmental protection.

About the Author


MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Food Waste in Hong Kong

By Sun Yi Fei (Maggie)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Background

3. Food Waste on Hong Kong

4. Reducing Food Waste in Hong Kong Schools

5. Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign

6. Solutions and Recommendations

7. Conclusion

8. References

9. About the Author

1. Introduction

Human beings cannot live without food. However, about 795 million people (approximately one in nine people) in the world do not have enough food for a healthy, active life (World Food Programme (WFP), 2015). On the other hand food waste in recent years has become a serious issue all over the world. As indicated by Gustavsson, Cederberg and Sonesson (2011), the per capita food loss and waste worldwide is more than one thousand kilograms. Due to the rapid growth of the world population, the issue is becoming more urgent. Therefore, there is a crucial need for greater awareness about the matter and proper solutions to improve the situation. This entry will explore the problem of food waste in Hong Kong, with a focus on government policies, education initiatives, and what the public can do.

2. Background

Chancellor (2010, p. 4) defines food waste as ‘all the food we do not eat’. As pointed out by Galanakis (2015, p. 7), food waste and food loss occur at various stages, including production, processing, retailing, and consumption (see Figure 1). The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (2015) reports multiple causes of food waste. They include rigid or misunderstood date marking rules, improper storage, buying and/or cooking practices. Other possible factors can be bad weather, mechanical damage, unnecessarily high standards for quality, poor facilities, transportation, peeling, packaging, expiry periods, and lack of awareness, among others. According to FAO (2013), food waste has a number of negative impacts on land, water, climate and biodiversity. The situation can further lead to pollution, loss of arable land, misuse of water, climate change, and biodiversity loss. Food waste, therefore, demands immediate solutions.

Figure 1.  Stages of food supply chain at which food waste and food loss occur (FAO, 2013)

Figure 1. Stages of food supply chain at which food waste and food loss occur (FAO, 2013)

3. Food Waste in Hong Kong

As a city with a dense population, Hong Kong is facing a severe problem of food waste. According to the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) of Hong Kong, in 2012, 9,278 tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) was disposed of at landfills every day. About 36% (around 3,337 tons) of this waste was food waste. The food waste disposal is equivalent to throwing away the weight of approximately 250 double-decker buses every 24 hours, or nearly 100,000 double-decker buses every year (Environment Bureau (EB), 2014). The major reasons for food waste in Hong Kong are the low price of food, large portions served, people being too selective about food, people feeling obliged to order more than enough when treating others at restaurants to not lose face, and people not storing food properly (FOE, 2015).

In addition, the EPD (2015) states that ‘the amount of food waste from Commercial and Industry (C&I) sectors has been increasing, from 400 tons in 2002 to 1,003 tons in 2013’. The figure is steadily growing, threatening the ecological and environmental balance. Therefore, greater public attention and effective solutions are in urgent demand.

The government hopes to cut Hong Kong's food waste by 10 per cent in three years. In order to reach this goal, the government has put several solutions into practice. These solutions include mobilizing the community, promoting food waste separation, recycling, treating separated and non-separated food waste, and final disposal (EB, 2014). Moreover, EPD commissioned a pilot food waste composting plant in Kowloon Bay in 2008, and cooperated with the commercial and industrial sectors to conduct food waste recycling and treatment to produce useful compost (EPD, 2005). Additionally the Environment and Conservation Fund (ECF) ‘subsidized Home Ownership Scheme and private housing estates to organize education programs on food waste reduction and to install treatment facilities for food waste recycling’ (ISD, 2013). In the following sections, the Hong Kong government’s cooperation with schools to reduce food waste is explored.

4. Reducing Food Waste in Hong Kong Schools

Early childhood education for sustainability, an emerging field, recognizes that early learning is helpful for shaping children’s environmental beliefs, knowledge, and actions (UNESCO, 2008). It is, therefore, advisable to start teaching children to appreciate food at this stage of development. It is especially important to do this at school because, as the FOE’s (2015) findings indicate, ‘10% of commercial and industrial food waste comes from schools, with a quantity of 15,000 tons or over 30 million meal boxes a year’.

To address this problem, the government issued guidelines on meal arrangements in schools. In these guidelines, the word ‘environment’ and the phrase ‘environmentally friendly’ appear more than ten times, emphasizing the importance of being environmentally friendly (Education Bureau (EDB), 2015). Some of the most important guidelines include: promoting environmentally friendly eating habits; encouraging parents to prepare environmentally friendly lunch boxes; promoting responsibility to reduce waste; encouraging application for Community Waste Recovery Projects (Green Lunch) under ECF for installing kitchen facilities, kitchen furniture, dish washing facilities, utensils, and electrical/water installation works; supporting schools to design an environmentally friendly way to recycle containers; asking schools to only consider lunch suppliers that take account of environment protection and so on (EDB, 2015).

Additionally, the Education Bureau issued Circular No. 18/2009: Green lunch in school. Its objective is to encourage schools to use reusable food containers and cutlery; to facilitate students to use reusable cutlery; to portion out food in a flexible manner; to monitor the provision of green lunch on an ongoing basis; and to apply for funding support from ECF for switching from using disposable lunch containers to central portioning of lunch at schools (EDB, 2009). The EB also (2015) developed guidelines on how to promote green lunch in schools, to equip schools and school lunch suppliers with more information on how to be environmentally friendly. The EB (2015) concluded that from the waste reduction perspective, Central/On-Site Portioning is more desirable than Off-Site Portioning, because all the utensils are reusable, and the amount of food can be adjusted on request. Local organizations such as Friends of the Earth, Green Power and Food for Good also provide seminars, workshops, and visits for schools and students. With supports from different departments and organizations, schools can reduce food waste.

Although the process of avoiding food waste in schools is rewarding, the EB has (2015) pointed out some difficulties that can impede the process of implementation of these schemes. First, lunch suppliers may increase the prices if they use lunch boxes that are made from metal or other durable materials, as such materials are more expensive. Second, schools must be spacious enough to accommodate a canteen and the facilities needed for reheating food and washing dishes. Consequently, the lunch price may be higher since lunch suppliers will need to invest in such facilities. Additionally Epochhk (2008) points out that the guidelines are vague, lack a detailed directive, and do not put any constraints on schools and lunch providers. 

5. Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign

Figure 2.  Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign Advertisement (Food Wise Hong Kong, 2013)

Figure 2. Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign Advertisement (Food Wise Hong Kong, 2013)

The Food Wise Hong Kong Steering Committee was set up in 2012 to ‘drive leadership in food waste avoidance and reduction through working with leaders in this field in order to formulate and oversee the implementation of the Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign’ (MyGovHK, 2015). It is chaired by the Secretary for the Environment and is composed of members from relevant sectors including catering, hotels, retail, property management, education, academia, green groups, food recipient organizations, and other concerned government departments (Food Wise Hong Kong, 2013). The objectives of the campaign are:

1. Promote awareness in the community of the waste management problems in Hong Kong.

2. Coordinate efforts within the Government and public institutions to lead by example in food waste reduction.

3. Instill behavioral changes in the community at individual and household levels that will help reduce food waste generation.

4. Draw up and promote good practices on food waste reduction of commercial and industrial establishments.

5. Encourage leadership in the commercial, industrial and community sectors to take action and share best practices.

6. Facilitate food donation between the establishments with surplus food with charitable organizations in the community (Food Wise Hong Kong, 2013).

The committee frequently holds activities and events including promotion of food waste reduction schemes in different districts; workshops for households, shopping malls, hospitals, NGOs, social services, schools and higher education institutions; a Reduce Food Waste Competition; sharing sessions; and food recycling. The campaign takes different parties and stakeholders into consideration, and works hard to raise public awareness of their responsibilities for reducing food waste. Since its launch in 2013, food waste in Hong Kong has decreased from 38% of total MSW (about 3627 tons per day) in 2013 to 37% (about 3619 tons per day) in 2014 (EPD, 2015).

Some critics identify weaknesses of the campaign, however. Woo (2014, p. 40) argues that the ‘Food Wise Hong Kong Campaign mainly relied on the moral motives of Hong Kong residents…Hong Kong people are highly motivated by money…waste charging can have more conspicuous effects because it provides suitable financial incentives’. Woo also claims that having environmental knowledge is not enough. Hong Kong residents should be reminded of food waste source reduction continually and implement daily source reduction habits. Furthermore, the Food Wise Hong Kong Steering Committee can provide a collaboration platform for various stakeholders in the medium term, which can share successful food waste reduction experience, share food waste recycling facilities, and help each other overcome leftover reduction difficulties (Food Wise, 2013). Apple Daily (2015) reports that among 198 vendors from 18 markets, 66% did not participate in Food Wise because they did not know about the campaign or how to get involved. To improve the campaign, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can be invited to assist the Committee. 

6. Solutions and Recommendations

To reduce food waste, the stages at which food waste and food loss occur should be understood (see Figure 1). Workshops for stakeholders should cover such topics as regulations and standards; vehicles for transportation and storage of food; and methods to calculate how much food to purchase. In restaurants, food servers can explain to customers portion sizes so they can make informed decisions about the amount of food they order. Penalties can be set for wasting food. Shopkeepers can remind customers of expiry dates and storage conditions of products. After shopping, people can keep receipts that can remind them of what food they have bought so they finish it. Supermarkets, restaurants, and markets can work with charity groups to give food to those in need.

School is a great place for promoting food waste reduction because children shape our future and can convey the ideas to their family members. More should be done in schools in Hong Kong. The government can design brochures for parents and videos for children. Some students eat less than others, so there should be lunch boxes with smaller portions for them. If students have lunch in canteens, additional portion should only be given on request.

Students should be encouraged to conserve food in everyday life. The procedures of processing food and the consequences of wasting food should be taught. Schools can have field trips where students, teachers, and students’ parents can experience the process of planting and harvesting. Competitions for designing posters and coining slogans, and for rewarding individuals or classes that waste the least food can be held to increase student motivation. The government can offer more support to schools by providing funding for designing relevant teaching materials,.

To raise public awareness, social media can be utilized. People can be encouraged to take pictures of their empty plates after meals and post them on their social media profiles with hashtags. Some prizes could be given to those who upload the most creative pictures or those whose pictures are liked and shared by the largest number of people.

Although the Hong Kong government has been trying to decrease food waste, it is hard to change people’s deep-seated cultural ideas about food. Researchers can explore this problem in order to minimize food waste.

7. Conclusion

Food waste is an urgent matter that requires everyone’s attention. The Hong Kong government has realized the seriousness of food waste and has taken actions to fix the problem. How schools are assisted and some programs for reducing food waste in Hong Kong were discussed in this entry. The government, schools, and other institutions and individuals can do much more to address this issue. 


Chancellor, D. (2010). Food waste. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group.

Education Bureau (EDB). (2009). Education Bureau Circular No. 18/2009: Green Lunch in School. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Retrieved from

Education Bureau (EDB). (2015). Guidelines on Meal Arrangements in Schools. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Retrieved from

Huantuan bianyin wushan zhinan feng zhengfu wuneng [Environmental Organizations Design and Hand Out Guidelines and Mock the Government’s Incapability]. (2008). Epoch Times. Retrieved from

Environment Bureau (EB). (2014). A Food Waste & Yard Waste Plan for Hong Kong. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Retrieved from

Environmental Protection Department (EPD). (2005). Problems & Solutions. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Retrieved from

Environmental Protection Department (EPD). (2015a). Guideline on How to Promote Green Lunch in Schools. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Retrieved from

Environmental Protection Department (EPD). (2015b). Problems & Solutions. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Retrieved from

Environmental Protection Department (EPD). (2015c). Waste Data and Statistics. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Retrieved from

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Friends of the Earth. (2015). All about Food Waste. Retrieved from

Food Wise Hong Kong. (2013). About Us. Retrieved from

Galanakis, C. M. (2015). Food Waste Recovery: Processing Technologies and Industrial Techniques. London: Academic Press.

Gustavsson, J., Cederberg, C., & Sonesson, U. (2011). Global Food Losses and Food Waste. Rome: FAO.

Information Services Department. (2013). Reduction and Treatment of Food Waste. Retrieved from

Lam, Y. M. (2012). Partnership for Sustainable Waste Management: A Case Study of the Food Waste Recycling Partnership Scheme in Hong Kong. (Unpublished Master's Dissertation). Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong.

MyGovHK. (2015). Food Wise. Retrieved from

Woo, P. K. (2014). Food Waste in Hong Kong: A Study on Reduction. (Unpublished Master's dissertation). The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

World Food Programme (WFP). (2015). Hunger Statistics. Retrieved from

About the Author

Sun Yi Fei (Maggie)

MEd, The University of Hong Kong



Education for Sustainable Diet in Hong Kong

By Joseph Hung

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Background

1. Food Production in the Modern World

2. Definition of a Sustainable Diet

3. Factors that Affect Food Choices

3. Education for Sustainable Diet in Hong Kong

1.  The Hong Kong Context: Cultural, Socio-historical, and Economic Background 

2. Formal Curriculum

3. Liberal Studies

4. Conclusion

5. References

6. Key Terms and Definitions

7. Appendix

8. About the Author

1. Introduction

Food is an important topic in early childhood education. At this very early stage children receive messages about food culture, nutrition, and hygiene. In secondary school, students study biochemistry and explore different components of food. Recently the environmental aspect of food production and consumption has been introduced into the curriculum in Hong Kong. However, to achieve sustainable development for the society, it is important to not only include aspects of environmental conservation in food and diet education, but also such issues as equity, poverty reduction, food security, and cultural relevance, among others. Senior Secondary Liberal Studies in the core curriculum of Hong Kong has the potential to incorporate these elements. This entry discusses food literacy education in Hong Kong, and in particular, how Liberal Studies approaches the topic of sustainable diet and may affect people’s dietary choices.

2. Background

2.1. Food Production in the Modern World

Food is important for human life as it is the main source of energy and raw material for our survival and growth. It is also one of the critical economic products that people produce, exchange, and consume. Humans shifted from the hunter-gatherer model of food production to an agrarian one to support a larger population in the period of the Neolithic revolution. Food also evolved with the development of agricultural technology and the eco-geographical setting.

Since World War II, industrialised countries have revolutionised agriculture by increased mechanisation and the widespread use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, and herbicides. There has also been an increased specialisation of crops and enlargement of farm size and related developments in livestock, followed more recently by the use of biotechnology in modifying plant genetics (Clunies-Ross & Hildyard, 1992). Not all of this development is ideal, however. According to an Oxfam report of 2013, 450 million people, originally farmers, now work as wageworkers in industrialised agricultural settings, of which 60% live in poverty and are facing starvation (Hoffman, 2013).

In addition, industrialised farms have increased pressure on the environment by using chemicals that transform land and machines that emit a large amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Vermeulen et al. (2012) calculated that food systems contribute 19%-29% of the world’s anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. One particularly important aspect is the global production of meat, which is projected to more than double, from 229 million tonnes in 1999 to 465 million tonnes in 2050 (Steinfeld et al, 2006). The expansion of livestock production causes land degradation, increase of fresh water usage, and higher levels of greenhouse gas emission. It has also worsened the food shortage problem worldwide as crops are fed to animals to boost their growth.

2.2. Definition of a Sustainable Diet

Gussow and Clancy (1986) proposed the term “sustainable diet” to “describe recommendations for food choices that support life and health within natural system limits into the foreseeable future”. They stressed the importance of understanding the effects of food choices on food supply, global resources (agricultural, economic, and natural), long-term stability of the food system, and individual nutrition and health (Gussow & Clancy, 1986). Since that time, there have been discussions and applications of the term in the areas of nutrition studies, development studies, and environmental studies, which complicated the term in connection with other concepts.

There is currently no universally agreed definition of a “sustainable diet” (He, 2012).  However, He, the Deputy Director-General of the FAO, proposed that a definition of a sustainable diet should “address sustainability of the whole food supply chain and thus provide guidance on promoting and applying the concept in different agro-ecological zones” (He, 2012). Hence, sustainable diet is informed by a multitude of issues in the production and consumption of food, including environmental, agro-economic, and human nutrition needs. Lairon (2012) lists the following components of a sustainable diet:

             food and nutrient needs, food security and accessibility;

             well-being and health;

             biodiversity, environment and climate;

             equity and fair trade;

             eco-friendly, local and seasonal food; and

             cultural heritage and skills.

2.3. Factors that Affect Food Choices

According to the European Food Information Council (2005), biological, economic, physical, social, and psychological factors, as well as attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge about food influence the way people choose what they eat. These determining factors can be grouped into three categories. First, formal and informal education plays a vital role in promoting food literacy as it shapes citizens’ attitudes and beliefs about food, and transfers necessary knowledge for making sound decisions in choosing it. In Hong Kong, for example, children receive knowledge and develop attitudes about food in formal school settings and at home. Second, social and cultural habits of a place have a big influence on how its people choose their food. These factors include cultural heritage (culinary style), religious rules and the effect of commercial culture. Third, economic forces behind the food supply chain are manifested in the availability and affordability of certain products. Hong Kong, as a city influenced both by the Chinese cultural background and a globalised economy, provides a great diversity of food choices.

3. Education for Sustainable Diet in Hong Kong

3.1. The Hong Kong Context: Cultural, Socio-historical, and Economic Background

Hong Kong is a city in South China that used to be a British colony. It is one of the world’s financial centres, and its per capita GDP is in the world’s top ten (World Bank, 2014). However, it was not a prosperous place in the past. Historically Hong Kong was a popular refuge for Chinese nationals when Mainland China was at war or during political movements. Poor Chinese immigrants had to struggle for life in the city. The experience of World War II and the Chinese civil war as well as starvation in China put an emphasis on food security and food safety over other things in the view of Hong Kong’s older generation. Currently, Hong Kong imports over 95% of its food from all over the world.

However, in good times, Hong Kong people consume the best of food products and enjoy a great variety of culinary styles. The mainstream home-cooked food is southern Chinese style, or the ‘Guangdong’ style. There are few taboos in food choice. Hong Kong people eat different types of meat (including internal organs), fish, and vegetables. Most people think that eating meat is essential for potency and nutrition. In banquets, rare and valuable food products, such as shark fin soup, abalone, groupers, and others are offered to show generosity to the guests and show off one’s wealth.

Culturally, Hong Kong is also influenced by its colonial past and the openness of the economy. Western-style food is seen as sophisticated and is served in most restaurants, along with Chinese-style food. The city is also rich in restaurants with Japanese, Korean, and Indian cuisines as well as transnational fast food chains. This variety affects the dietary choices of young people.

The Hong Kong Department of Health has been promoting a healthy diet for years, recommending particularly that residents of Hong Kong reduce fat and salt consumption. Such a diet can lower the risks of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. A committee for reduction of salt and sugar in food was established by the Hong Kong government in 2015. However, since food has long been seen as an area the Department of Health should be responsible for, little emphasis has been placed on other aspects of diet such as those related to the environment.

In 2012, Green Monday, as part of a global movement, was established in Hong Kong to promote a vegetarian diet. The movement made a very strong media statement about the environmental problems that may arise due to the great increase in meat production. At the same time, the issue of food waste has become a concern in the city, as the landfills have started reaching their limits. Hong Kong people have thus only started to pay attention to the environmental issues surrounding food production and consumption. With the launch of Liberal Studies in 2009, teaching and learning about food can be revitalised.

3.2. Formal Curriculum

In Hong Kong, issues related to food are taught in general studies (primary school), integrated science and integrated humanities (junior secondary), and Liberal Studies (senior secondary). There have been studies carried out about food and health education in Hong Kong in the past (such as Chan et al., 2009), but no research has been done about sustainability in food systems (i.e., the whole process of food production and distribution). Students study basic knowledge about nutrition, hygiene, balanced diet, and malnutrition/obesity in the primary years (Education Bureau (EDB), 2002a). In junior secondary years, they learn about food in geography (farmland), economics (modes of production), and biology (the digestive system and human nutrition). Although the curriculum encourages project learning and other integrated teaching approaches (EDB, 2002b; EDB, 2002c), different schools choose issues they teach, and food is not always a popular choice in their project learning exercises. In the curriculum, the production of food is barely touched upon.

3.3. Liberal Studies

In senior secondary schools, all students study Liberal Studies as a compulsory subject. Liberal Studies has sustainability as one of the main concepts in Module 6 of the syllabus, and food production and consumption are popular topics in teaching and assessment. The DSE examination, for example, has a number of questions about food (see Appendix 1 for a list of all topics in the DSE LS examination about food since 2012). The examination assesses students’ knowledge about food safety, food and health, food culture, starvation, free trade and globalisation, as well as vegetarianism and human choice of food. It is likely that students gain a good understanding of the relationship between food and sustainability after studying the subject. However, this is not guaranteed, because teachers can choose other issues in their teaching to illustrate issues of sustainability.

Besides knowledge, development of specific attitudes and values are also key goals in Liberal Studies teaching and learning. Students, through their critical study of different issues and concepts from various perspectives, develop their own belief systems. The expected learning outcome of the subject includes an “appreciation for the values of [students’] own and other cultures, and for universal values, and [commitment] to becoming responsible and conscientious citizens” (EDB, 2014).

In most of the above educational initiatives, an “ESD1” approach is employed, as students study specific knowledge about the subject and develop “informed [and] skilled behaviour and ways of thinking” (Vare and Scott, 2007). However, “ESD2” is critical in the long-term as it builds the capacity to think, test ideas, and explore dilemmas and contradictions. In a fast-paced society such as Hong Kong, ESD2 is a much-needed approach to complement ESD1 in order to effect changes. Current and future residents of Hong Kong should learn how to make responsible choices in food products through education for sustainable diet. The spirit of the Liberal Studies curriculum should then include an ESD2 approach.

An obstacle to the shift in teaching for sustainable diet relates to implementation of the Liberal Studies curriculum. Teachers training still lags behind the curriculum changes of 2009, as teachers are not all prepared to teach such varied issues. Yet the way teachers make sense of the curriculum and choose their teaching strategies has a strong influence on the learning outcome (Mak, 2011). Furthermore, since education is only one of the factors that affect food choice, the strong cultural factor still dominates the decision-making processes of people. In addition, even though students pay attention to food mileage or sustainability, the shortage of locally produced food and the relatively high price of environmentally friendly food is a major problem that affects their choice.

4. Conclusion

Education is one of the major factors that affects the sustainable choice of diet. In Hong Kong, like many other places, students learn about food with a focus on its nutritional value. The environmental issues in food choices and sustainability are a novelty. The formal schooling system is fast in responding to global demands, with the introduction of Liberal Studies in 2009. However, improvement in teacher training is critical to achieve desired learning outcomes. Since cultural and economic influences are also strong, whether Hong Kong people can adopt a more sustainable diet depends on education.


Clunies-Ross, T. & Hildyard, N. (1992). The Politics of Industrial Agriculture. London: Earthscan Publications.

Education Bureau (EDB). (2002a). General Studies for Primary Schools Curriculum Guide. The Government of HKSAR.

Education Bureau (EDB). (2002b). Science Education: Key Learning Area Curriculum Guide (Primary 1 - Secondary 3). The Government of HKSAR.

Education Bureau (EDB). (2002c). Personal, Social and Humanities Education: Key Learning Area Curriculum Guide (Primary 1 - Secondary 3). The Government of HKSAR.

Education Bureau (EDB). (2014). Liberal Studies: Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4-6). The Government of HKSAR.

European Food Information Council (EUFIC). (2005). The determinants of food choice. EUFIC Review, 4/2005. Retrieved October 26, 2015, from

Gussow, J. D. & Clancy, K. L. (1986). Dietary guidelines for sustainability. Journal of Nutrition Education, 18, 1-5.

He, C. C. (2012). Opening addresses. Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity: Directions and Solutions for Policy, Research and Action. FAO. Retrieved October 27, 2015, from

Hoffman, B. (2012). Behind the Brands: Food Justice and the Big 10 Food and Beverage Companies. Oxfam. Retrieved October 27, 2015, from

Lairon, D. (2012). Biodiversity and sustainable nutrition with a food-based approach. Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity: Directions and Solutions for Policy, Research and Action. FAO. Retrieved October 27, 2015, from

Mak, K. W. (2011). Making Sense of New Senior Secondary Liberal Studies in Hong Kong Curriculum Reform: Teacher Perspectives. The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Steinfeld, H., Gerber, P. J., Wassenaar, T., Castel, V., Rosales, M. & de Haan, C. (2006). Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome. Retrieved October 6, 2015, from

Vare, P. & Scott, W. (2007). Learning for Change: Exploring the Relationship between Education and Sustainable Development. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 1(2). Doi: 10.1177/097340820700100209

Vermeulen, S. J, Campbell, B. M. & Ingram J. S. I. (2012). Climate Change and Food Systems. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 37, 195-222. Retrieved October 27, 2015, from

World Bank, The (WB). (2014). 2014 World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C.: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank.

Key Terms and Definitions

Sustainable Diet: food choices that support life and health within natural system limits into the foreseeable future. There is no universally agreed definition, but for a diet to be recognised as sustainable, it usually prioritises the following components: nutrition needs, food security, health and well-being, biodiversity and the environment, fair trade, and cultural heritage.

Food System: the whole process in which food is produced, distributed and consumed. Industrialised agriculture with giant transnational food companies distributing food products globally is the dominant food system in the modern world.

Food Literacy: The knowledge, skills and attitudes about food. Traditionally it has been composed of knowledge related to food choice and processing (nutrition and cookery), but is moving toward understanding of food systems and the environmental and social impacts of food production and consumption.

Appendix 1 A List of HKEAA Liberal Studies question papers with “food” topics since 2012


About the Author

Joseph Hung

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Environmental Education in the Liberal Studies Curriculum in Hong Kong

By Chiu Wing-yin (Bernice)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Introduction and Definition of Environmental Education

3. Environmental Education in Hong Kong Secondary Schools

4. Environmental Education in Liberal Studies Curriculum

1. Liberal Studies Curriculum

2. Liberal Studies Curriculum and Environmental Education

5. Recommendations

6. References

7. Appendix

8. About the Author

1. Introduction

The growing awareness about environmental degradation makes educators see Environmental Education (EE) as an essential strategy. However, many are concerned with the effectiveness of EE in schools (e.g. Fien & Yencken, 2003;  Lee, 1995; Stimpson, 1997; Tsang & Lee, 2014). This entry seeks to explore the development of EE in Hong Kong and analyze the Liberal Studies curriculum to determine its effectiveness. It starts by defining environmental education and giving its historical overview. After that, the entry introduces the Liberal Studies curriculum in Hong Kong and the place of EE in it.  

2. Introduction and Definition of Environmental Education

Tsang (2003) defines Environmental Education as  

the process of developing an environmentally literate, competent, and dedicated citizenry which actively strives to resolve value conflicts in the man-environment relationship, in a manner which is ecologically and humanistically sound in order to reach the superordinate goal of a homeostasis between quality of life and quality of environment.

The major components of EE include “information”, “awareness”, “concern”, “attitude and beliefs”, “education and training” which, according to Hawthorne (1999), are interconnected with each other.

The European Commission (1997) and the United Nations (1993) highlight the importance of environmental education to environmental sustainability. The European Commission (1997) states that environmental education is ‘essential to enhance levels of awareness and understanding of the key issues at the core of the sustainability imperative, promote attitude change, and modify pattern of behavior.’  Chapter 36 of Agenda 21 (UN, 1993) points out that

Education is critical for promoting sustainable development and improving the capacity of the people to address environment and development issues…..Both formal and non-formal education are indispensable to changing people’s attitudes so that they have the capacity to assess and address their sustainable development concerns.

In December 2002, the United Nations proclaimed the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, 2005-2014. It emphasized that ‘education is an indispensable element for achieving sustainable development’ (UN, 2002). Environmental education can be one of the ways to address environmental problems.

It is, however, not common for countries to make environmental education a core and compulsory subject in the curricula. Instead, only elements of environmental education are incorporated into different subjects. Hong Kong is a typical case. The rest of the paper discusses environmental education in Hong Kong and analyzes its Liberal Studies curriculum.

3. Environmental Education in Hong Kong Secondary Schools

The Education Bureau (EDB) implemented environmental education in the school curriculum for the first time in 1999. The Guidelines on Environmental Education in Schools are used to promote the concept of sustainable development in schools.

The EDB’s plan for education for sustainable development (ESD) focuses on three major aspects: awareness, action, and attitudes. The EDB suggests the schools in Hong Kong adopt a cross-curricular, whole school, and action-oriented approach in the promotion of ESD. Instead of introducing an individual subject on environmental education, the EDB chose to gradually incorporate the elements of sustainable development and environmental education into different subjects. With the guidelines from the government, Hong Kong schools were able to implement environmental education in different ways and with different styles.

Some environmentalists and concerned groups found that the effectiveness of environmental education was questionable due to the variation in the approaches, however. For example, Fien and Yencken (2003) conclude that ‘there is a tendency for environmental education to be marginalized by most teachers and its practice is piecemeal.’ They describe the present pattern of environmental education as ‘short-term, often ill-conceived and unsystematic.’ 

Liberal Studies, introduced in 2009 as a compulsory subject, is one of the most relevant to environmental education in Hong Kong. John Lee (as cited in McBeath, McBeath, Qing, & Yu, 2014) claims that in Hong Kong

          the emphasis has been on school-based activities, in the nature of civic education....The guiding objective was merger of environmental education into the curriculum....There’s no requirement to teach it as an integrated subject...Some environmental education is included in Liberal Studies, and is taught along with energy, climate change, and sustainable development; energy is the focus.

Liberal Studies is a core subject for senior secondary students who take the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education. It includes six modules that cover local, Mainland Chinese, and global issues, and has a high degree of flexibility in the design and use of learning materials. It is important to analyze whether the curriculum can incorporate EE, and whether teachers put enough emphasis on the parts relevant to the subject.

4. Environmental Education and Liberal Studies Curriculum

4.1. Liberal Studies Curriculum

Liberal Studies curriculum was introduced in 1992 as an Advanced Supplementary Level (ASL) subject for grades 6 and 7. The Curriculum and Assessment Guide (S4-S6) states that the design and assessment framework of the Liberal Studies curriculum are in line with contemporary views on knowledge and learning styles. The curriculum aims to encourage students to explore issues that are related to sustainability, the physical environment, and the relationship between humans and nature. Since 2009, it has become a core subject in senior secondary school. Liberal Studies comprises three areas of study: “Self and Personal Development”, “Society and Culture,” and “Science, Technology, and the Environment.” These three areas aim to help students develop an understanding of themselves, their society, and the world.

There are six modules under the three areas of study: “Personal Development and Interpersonal Relationships”, “Hong Kong Today”, “Modern China”, “Globalization”, “Public Health,” and “Energy, Technology, and the Environment.” Each module provides a list of Enquiry Questions to teachers. These questions should guide teachers when discussing controversial events and issues. As part of their studies, students conduct an Independent Enquiry Study (IES). They are required to use the knowledge and perspectives gained from the three areas of study. Students can choose their own topic based on their interest.

“Energy Technology and the Environment” is the most relevant module to environmental education. The Curriculum Development Institute and the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (2007, p. 49) states that this module

seeks to analyse how we use energy, and discuss how this has a significant impact on our lives and environment, and how the development of energy technology relates to sustainable development.

The module is divided into 2 themes. “The influences of energy technology” investigates the relationship between energy technology and environmental problems such as climate change, acid rain, and smog. “The environment and sustainable development” explores the importance of sustainable development and its relationship with development of science and technology.

Apart from this module, teachers can teach environmental issues by adopting a cross-modular approach. For example, it is common for Liberal Studies teachers to connect environmental issues such as pollution in Modern China to explain how the rapid urbanization of the country has caused environmental problems.

4.2. Liberal Studies Curriculum and Environmental Education

Hong Kong has an exam-oriented education system that may have a negative backwash effect on Environmental Education. Backwash effect is a term used by the EDB, the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, and Hong Kong teachers (e.g. Ho, 2015; HKSAR Government, 2014). It means that testing potentially has a negative effect on learning and teaching. Students’ understanding of the subject is affected as teachers concentrate on teaching examination skills and on the content that is needed for the examination.

Teachers also tend to pay less attention to global environmental issues due to the focus of examination questions on the local context. 2014 DSE Paper 1 contained a question about ‘wind power and renewable energy.’ Other questions on environmental issues were limited to the local and mainland context (see Appendix A). However, environmental problems are global problems; thus EE should not be limited to a single country. Schools should educate students to be responsible global citizens that have knowledge and skills to protect the environment.

Another problem with EE is that teachers of Liberal Studies may not have enough knowledge about environmental issues. There are no compulsory courses on environmental issues for prospective or in-service Liberal Studies teachers. As a result, teachers do not have comprehensive knowledge about environmental issues, and this affects the quality of EE they provide.

Additionally, the EDB recommends to allocate approximately 250 hours of lesson time to Liberal studies. About 168 hours are allocated to the six modules, and 82 hours are reserved for the IES (CDC, 2014). Schools are able to arrange lesson time flexibly throughout the three years. Also, the EDB gives schools freedom to choose textbooks and materials for different modules. Schools then decide whether it is necessary to include EE. In view of this, it is difficult to measure how many hours are allocated to the teaching of environmental issues, and whether or not students have exposure to EE through Liberal Studies.

The EDB states that Liberal Studies is not designed to promote Environmental Education. However, according to a survey conducted among 458 secondary schools, more than 98% of the respondents agreed that Liberal Studies was able to ‘enhance students’ understanding of themselves, their society, their nation, the human world and the physical environment.’ 93% of the Liberal Studies Panel Heads agreed that the subject can ‘help students develop positive values and attitudes towards life, so that they can become informed and responsible citizens of society, the country and the world’ (Education Bureau, 2015). This shows that Liberal Studies’ interdisciplinary nature can help students connect knowledge gained from other areas that are included in the subject (see Figure 1). 

Figure 1: Liberal Studies and the Three-year Senior Secondary Curriculum (CDI&HKEAA, 2007, p.3)

Figure 1: Liberal Studies and the Three-year Senior Secondary Curriculum (CDI&HKEAA, 2007, p.3)

5. Recommendations

Liberal Studies curriculum has potential to help schools teach environmental issues in a more systematic way. However, the unique nature and characteristics of the subject, the flexible use of lesson time and materials, as well as the lack of teacher training cannot guarantee the effectiveness of teaching EE in Liberal Studies classes. The EDB can play a bigger role in promoting the importance of EE in Hong Kong (White, 2013). It is recommended that the EDB give guidance to schools that is more concrete. The EDB should also develop compulsory training schemes for teachers on ESD and EE, with a focus on the implementation of cross-curricular and cross-modular methods.

UNESCO suggests that the tendency to prioritize examination performance may lead to a decline in ESD due to a decrease in available student school hours (White, 2013). Students do not understand the importance of environmental protection if their purpose in studying environmental education is to pass the examination. To successfully implement the EE program in Hong Kong, a whole school approach should be developed. This means that elements of EE should be integrated into the school curriculum, policies, and extra-curricular activities.


Curriculum Development Institute and the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (CDI&HKEAA). (2007). Liberal Studies Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4 -6) (with updates in October 2015). Hong Kong: Education Bureau.

Education Bureau (EDB). (2015). Report on New Academic Structure Medium-term Review and Beyond – Continual Renewal from Strength to Strength. Retrieved from for the report (English only).

European Commission (EC). (1997). Environmental Education in the European Union. Brussels: European Commission.

Fien, J., Sykes, H., & Yencken, D. (2003). Environment, Education and Society in the Asia-Pacific: Local Traditions and Global Discourses. Routledge.

Hawthorne, M., & Alabaster, T. (1999). Citizen 2000: Development of a Model of Environmental Citizenship. Global Environmental Change, 9(1), 25-43.

Ho, K.K. (2015). Politicization of the Liberal Studies in Hong Kong. HKU Scholars Hub. The University of Hong Kong.

HKSAR Government. (2014). LCQ2: Curricula of Senior Secondary Subjects. Hong Kong.

Lee, J. C. K. (1995). Environmental Education in Schools in Hong Kong. Environmental Education Research, 3(3), 359-371.

McBeath, G.A, McBeath, J. H., Qing, T., & Yu, H. (2014). Environmental Education in China. Maryland: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Stimpson, P. G. (1997). Environmental Challenge and Curricular Responses in Hong Kong. Environmental Education Research, 3, 345-357.

Tsang, E.P-K. & Lee, J.C.-K. (2014). ESD Projects, Initiatives and Research in Hong Kong and Mainland China. In J. Chi-Kin Lee & R. Efird. (Eds.). Schooling for Sustainable Development across the Pacific. Dordrecht: Springer.

Tsang, P. K. (2003). Heading Towards Environmental Citizenship: The Case of Green School Initiative. In P. Hills & C.S. Man. (2003). New Directions in Environmental Education. Hong Kong: The Centre of Urban Planning and Environmental Management.

United Nations (UN). (1993). Agenda 21: The United Nations Programme of Action from Rio. New York: United Nations.

White, L. (2013). NGOs and Education for Sustainable Development: A Comparison of the provision of education opportunities for secondary schools in Hong Kong by UNESCO and WWF (Unpublished Master’s thesis). The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

Wong, K.K. (2011). Towards a Light‐Green Society for Hong Kong, China: Citizen Perceptions. In International Journal of Environmental Studies, 68(2), 209-227.

Appendix 1


About the Author

Chiu Wing-yin (Bernice)

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Electric Energy Resources in Hong Kong

By Cai Zhi Yao

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Definition

3. Electric Energy Resource Import in Hong Kong

3.1. Coal 

3.2. Natural Gas

4. Renewable Energy Power Implementation in Hong Kong

1. Wind Power

2. Solar Power

3. Nuclear Powe

5. Primary and Secondary Education of Electric Energy Resource in Hong Kong

6. Implications and Recommendations

7. Conclusion

8. References

9. Key Terms and Definitions

10. Notes

11. Appendix

12. About the Author

1. Introduction

Hong Kong, Special Administration Region of the Republic of China, is an international city with a population of 7,266,500 (2014 year-end). Under the inevitable globalisation and internalisation, Hong Kong is trying to become an environmentally friendly city. The government and NGOs are promoting sustainable projects. Education as one of the indispensable units of the society, should be seen as an important part of such projects. This entry introduces a broad definition of electric energy and illustrates the situation and controversy in Hong Kong. It then discusses two main imported traditional resources, coal and natural gas, and talks about the implementation of renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, and nuclear power. After that, the entry examines General and Liberal Studies to see if the topic of sustainable development is discussed in Primary and Secondary education.

2. Definition

Energy is the ability of a system to perform work, and power is the rate of energy use or delivery. The most important and significant distinction between them is their units. The common unit of power is the Watt (W) whereas the unit of energy is kWh. Though there is the watt in the unit of energy, energy measurement also includes time. The word ‘power’ is sometimes used to replace electricity. Wind-power is used as electricity from wind (Coley, 2008). Interpretation may differ in different languages. For example, power means Nengliang (能量) while energy refers to Nengyuan (能源) in Chinese. Electric energy is converted from mechanical energy by rotating the electromechanical generators (El-Sharkawi, 2008). In many industrial applications, electric energy is converted from kinetic energy in the generator (Coley, 2008). In this entry, the focus is on the resources of electric energy, which are mainly used to generate electricity for domestic use.

3. Electric Energy Resource Import in Hong Kong

As a city with no local energy resources, Hong Kong receives its energy supplies almost entirely from other countries. These resources include fossil fuels (e.g. coal and natural gas) and renewable sources (e.g. wind and solar power). This section discusses two imported traditional resources (coal and natural gas) and tracks the changes in their use to explain what efforts have been made to shift to sustainability in Hong Kong.

3.1. Coal

Coal products include steam coal, wood charcoal, anthracite, and coke/semi-coke. They are imported from a wide range of locations. The retained imports of coal products have been dominated in terms of quantity by steam coal that is mainly used for electricity generation.

The major exporting countries have changed under industrialisation and globalisation (Figure 1.1). According to Hong Kong Energy Statistics (1997, 2007 & 2014), Hong Kong imported steam coal and other coal products mainly from Indonesia (1,835,168), Australia (1,771,886) and Mainland China (1,034,596), which accounted for 32%, 31% and 18% of the corresponding total in 1997 respectively. However, Indonesia (11,404,051) became the major supplier in 2007. The amount provided by China and Australia has declined to 6.2% and 0.6% respectively. In 2014, Indonesia (8,199,598) still kept its leading position with 76.7% of corresponding total. Only 138 tonnes were imported from China in 2014. One of the reasons is that in 2005 Indonesia overtook Australia and became the world’s largest producer and exporter of coal (Indonesia Investments, 2015).

Figure 1.1  Percentage of total steam and other coal consumption in 1997, 2007, 2014 ( HKCSD  Annual Reports)

Figure 1.1 Percentage of total steam and other coal consumption in 1997, 2007, 2014 (HKCSD Annual Reports)

Export from China in 2014 was less than 0.05% of the corresponding total.

According to BP Statistical Review of World Energy (BP Global, 2015), Hong Kong shared 0.2% of total world coal consumption in 2014. This is higher than what Demark (0.1%) and Finland (0.1%) consumed. The total coal consumption in Hong Kong increased by 4.82% from 2013. In comparison, consumption rates in Singapore (2.9%) and Mainland China (0.1%) were lower. In other countries steps to further reduce consumption were taken. Taiwan (-0.2%), Malaysia (-6.2%), Japan (-1.6%), and Denmark (-18.9%) decreased the consumption of coal.

Since 1997, the government has prohibited establishment of new power generation that depends on coal as it is the major air polluter (Environmental Protection Department, 2015). For example, Hong Kong stopped importing coal/semi-coal products that have high carbon content. Instead, natural gas as the source of power generation has been encouraged.

3.2. Natural Gas

In 1996, Hong Kong introduced natural gas as an energy resource for electricity generation. Yacheng 13-1 gas field in Hainan Province was constructed with 90.8 billion m3 in December of 1995. It started to transfer natural gas to Hong Kong in January 1996 through a submarine pipeline (780 km) (IITDHP, 2011). Natural gas from Yacheng 13-1 gas field was used in Black Point and Castle Peak Power Station for electricity generation. With reserves depletion and increase of the demand, in 2008, the Chief Executive and the Vice-chairman of NDRC Mr. Zhang Guobao signed a Memorandum of Understanding (HKSARG, 2008) which renewed the supply agreement for 20 years.

Now some power stations use gas as their key method to generate electricity. For example, Black Point Power Station of CLP is one of the world’s largest gas-fired combined cycle power stations. Also, HK Electric has installed one 55MW and four 125MW gas turbines, one 335MW and one 345 MW combined cycle units in Lamma Power Station in 2011. By doing this, it can enable companies to reduce CO2 emission in Hong Kong.

4. Renewable Energy Power Implementation in Hong Kong

According to the REN21 2015 Annual Report, renewables contributed 19% to energy consumption and 22% to electricity generation in 2012 and 2013 respectively all over the world. To try to reduce the environmental impact of energy consumption in Hong Kong, CLP and HK Electric develop plans and projects to maintain a healthy balance between safety, reliability, and environmental performance.

4.1. Wind Power

Wind power is extracted from airflow using wind turbines or sails to produce electrical power. Wind power is consistent yearly but has significant variation over shorter scales. Therefore, it is usually used in conjunction with other electric power.

Hong Kong’s first wind power station Lamma Winds was launched in February 2006. The aims of HK Electric were to provide practical experience in operating a wind turbine and promote public understanding of renewable energy through this pilot project. The wind power is located in the northern part of Lamma Island with the average wind speed of 5.5 metres per second. Its proximity to the existing transmission network, accessibility to roads, and a minimum impact on local wildlife and residents make it an ideal place for wind power generation. According to HK Electric (2015)[z1] , the wind turbine will generate 800,000 to one million units of electricity every year. It is expected to offset the usage of 62,000 tonnes of coal and 150,000 tonnes of CO2 emission annually.

4.2. Solar Power

Solar power is conversion of sunlight into electricity. Photovoltaics (PV) or Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) system are used in this process. PV converts light into an electric current using the photovoltaic effect while CSP use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a concentrated beam. According to International Energy Agency (IEA), solar power would be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050.

In 2010, HK Electric built a commercial-scale solar power system with a generating capacity of 1MW in Hong Kong. The system comprises 5,500 amorphous silicon and 3,162 amorphous/microcrystalline silicon tandem junction TFPV modules that consume less silicon and are more environmentally friendly. This system is expected to generate 1,100,000 units of electricity annually, which will also help to reduce 915 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.

4.3. Nuclear Power

The threats of global climate change and increasingly expensive fossil fuels have prompted many nations to reconsider the development of nuclear energy as an option. There is no nuclear power station in Hong Kong. However, according to CLP, Hong Kong imports 70% of electricity from Guangdong Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant that was launched in 1994. In 2009, the supply contract was extended until 2034. The Plant is located in Shenzhen which is a convenient place to provide electricity to Hong Kong. The capacity purchase of this plant is 1,378MW and CLP has 492MW equity capacity.

Nuclear decision-making involves not only technical issues but also a complex mix of economic, social, environmental, and governance concerns such as risk management and public distrust (NEA, 2010). [z2] WWF Hong Kong offered four reasons to reject nuclear power. First, Hong Kong is able to reach the proposed carbon reduction target without the need for nuclear power only if they could be firmly on demand side management (DSM). Second, Hong Kong should carry out large-scale energy saving and conservation programmes instead of increasing energy supply. Third, the society and citizens should change the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality. Last, safety issues of using nuclear power need to be discussed.

5. Primary and Secondary Education of Electric Energy Resource in Hong Kong

Starting from Primary 3, pupils gain general knowledge about energy and develop awareness about saving energy in daily consumption. In secondary education level, the curricula for science (S1-3) and physics (S3-6) have a limited time for relevant courses. According to Syllabuses for Secondary Schools in Science (Secondary 1-3), science class at this level has 11 units with only one unit about energy and one about electricity. According to Physics Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4-6), physics class at this level has compulsory part (184 hours), elective part (50 hours), and investigative study (16 hours). For elective part, students choose only 2 out of 4 topics. The learning content is partly based on student’s personal choice. In Secondary 4-6, the arrangement is different. The unit on Electricity and Magnetism (48 out of 184 hours) is a compulsory part whereas unit on Energy and Use of Energy (25 out of 50 hours) is an elective part.

Other units also cover such energy sources as gas and nuclear energy. Those units, however, teach to further assess students’ knowledge, not cultivate their awareness of sustainable development. In the Appendix we can observe discrepancies between learning contents and outcomes. Although students are required to have knowledge in a specific area, they study the topic broadly and in an exam-oriented way.

6. Implications and Recommendations

From a technological perspective, during the last decade efforts have been made by the government and NGOs to facilitate the efficiency of electricity generation and shift to clean energy sources. The awareness of citizens and energy saving education, however, need to be improved.

The Thematic Household Survey Report No. 17 (2004) revealed that the majority of households often or sometimes ‘did not mind using appliances with high electricity consumption for comfort of living’ (83.0%) and ‘did not care about the amount of electricity consumed as well as the charges involved’ (76.0%). This attitude may influence the progress in energy saving, especially in Hong Kong where residential income and consumption are relatively high. It was also observed that, although 63.6% of the investigated households supported the government to introduce renewable energy, 36.9% of them indicated that they would not choose to use renewable energy. Further research is needed to examine the influences on people’s attitudes about renewable energy (e.g. tariff and finical condition). Education should also highlight the importance of sharing responsibility to promote sustainable development in Hong Kong. The government and Education Bureau should not only focus on academic achievement, but also provide opportunities for relevant extracurricular activities.

7. Conclusion

This entry focuses on the electric energy resources in Hong Kong. In the age of globalisation and internalisation, the society is developing very fast but is experiencing the shortage of resources. To turn to the path of sustainable development, the government and NGOs in Hong Kong are trying to optimise and improve infrastructure and awareness and knowledge about the issues related to sustainability. For example, the electricity bills show how many carbon dioxides household produce. Although the effect of these initiatives needs further discussion, the efforts are significantly recognised.

Education system as a vital process of social functioning should also address this problem. The current educational system is assessment oriented and does not provide opportunities for extracurricular activities that would raise awareness about energy consumption. Policies should be developed to educate a new generation to lead sustainable lifestyles.


BP Global. (2015, June). BP Statistical Review of World Energy (64th ed.). London, UK: BP.

Census and Statistics Department (HKCSD). (1998, July). Hong Kong Energy Statistics: Annual Report 1997 Edition. Hong Kong, Census and Statistics Department.

Census and Statistics Department (HKCSD). (2004, April). Thematic Household Survey Report No. 17. Hong Kong, Census and Statistics Department.

Census and Statistics Department (HKCSD). (2008, May). Hong Kong Energy Statistics: 2007 Annual Report. Hong Kong, Census and Statistics Department.

Census and Statistics Department (HKCSD). (2015, April). Hong Kong Energy Statistics: 2014 Annual Report. Hong Kong, Census and Statistics Department.

Coley, A. D. (2008). Energy and Climate Change: Creating a Sustainable Future. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.

Curriculum Development Council (CDC). (1998). Syllabuses for Secondary Schools: Science (Secondary 1-3). Hong Kong, Education Department.

Curriculum Development Council (CDC). (2011). General Studies for Primary Schools: Curriculum Guide (Primary 1 - Primary 6). Hong Kong, Education Bureau.

Curriculum Development Council & The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (CDC & HKEAA). (2014, January). Science Education Key Learning Area: Physics Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4 - 6). Hong Kong, Education Bureau.

El-Sharkawi, A. M. (2009). Electric Energy: An Introduction. Boca Raton: CRC Press

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG). (2008, August). Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Co-operation. Hong Kong, GovHK. Retrieved from

The Hongkong Electric Co., Ltd. (2015). The Power behind Hong Kong: Lamma Power Station. Retrieved from

Industry and Information Technology Department of Hainan Province (IITDHP). (2012). Hainan Province Chronicle: Industry Chronicle (The second round). Retrieved from

Indonesia Investment. (2015, October). Coal. Retrieved from

Mah N. D., Hills P., & Tao J. (2014). Risk Perception, Trust and Public Engagement in Nuclear Decision-making in Hong Kong. Energy Policy, 73(2014): 368-390. (2013, September). Overview of Natural Gas. Retrieved from

Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). (2010). Public Attitude to Nuclear Power. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

REN21. (2015). REN21 annual report 2014. Paris: REN21

WWF-Hong Kong. (n.d.). Why Say No to Additional Nuclear. Hong Kong: World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved from

Key Terms and Definitions

Electric Energy: Energy is the ability of a system to perform work and power is the rate of energy use or delivery. And electric energy is the energy newly derived from electric potential energy.

Hong Kong: Officially Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, it is an autonomous territory on the southern coast of China without indigenous energy resources

Traditional Energy Resource: natural resources that are all that exists without the actions of humankind and are used to generate electricity.

Renewable Energy:  energy that comes from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat.


 [z1]The Hongkong Electric Co., Ltd. (2015). The Power behind Hong Kong: Lamma Power Station. Retrieved from

 [z2]Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). (2010). Public Attitude to Nuclear Power. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 

Appendix 1 Content and Learning Objective from Primary 1 to Secondary 6 (General Studies for Primary Schools Curriculum Guide, Syllabuses for Secondary Schools in Science, and Physics Curriculum and Assessment Guide)


About the Author

Cai Zhi Yao

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Promoting Energy Conservation and Efficiency through Education in Hong Kong

By Samuel Joseph Craig

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Background

3. Non-formal Education

4. Formal Education

5. Consensus, Challenges, and Limitations

6. Conclusion

7. References

8. Notes

9. Appendix

10. About the Author

1. Introduction

It is estimated that 53 percent of the world’s population currently live in cities, and according to the United Nations it will be 66 percent by 2050 (UN, 2014). One of the biggest economic and environmental challenges that cities face now and in the future is and will be energy consumption. Energy consumption in Hong Kong and around the world is set to increase in alignment with population. With an increase in energy consumption comes an increase in pollution and a greater risk to the world’s changing climate (see Appendix Figure 1). The need for energy conservation and efficiency is urgent.

This entry focuses on past, present, and future formal and non-formal education strategies which attempt to address the issue of energy consumption in Hong Kong through energy conservation and efficiency. There are three sections. The first section presents Hong Kong’s unique context and background as it relates to energy consumption. The second describes the earlier, current, and future direction of non-formal and formal education. Finally, the third section discusses the consensus, challenges, and limitations of these strategies.

2. Background

Hong Kong has a unique cultural, economic, social, and environmental context, which affects the way in which it consumes energy. It is one of the most densely populated places on earth, has long, hot and humid summers, a high performing, international, capitalist economy, and its technologically literate population of 7.2 million mostly live and work in high rise buildings (Environment Bureau, 2015d). Hong Kong people enjoy reliable urban infrastructure, technological innovation, and a high quality public transport system, which has resulted in them consumption of moderately less energy per capita in comparison to other economically developed places around the world (Wong, 2011; World Bank, 2015; EB, 2015a, pp. 6-7; see Figure 2).

Figure 2    Electric power consumption in Hong Kong (OECD/IAE 2014)

Figure 2 Electric power consumption in Hong Kong (OECD/IAE 2014)

In fact, Hong Kong has the lowest energy intensity[1] index of all Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and European Union member states (see Figure 3).

Figure 3    Energy intensity ranking (APEC Energy Statistics 2012)

Figure 3 Energy intensity ranking (APEC Energy Statistics 2012)

However, in order to cope with the challenges of limited resources and space, Hong Kong relies on a diverse mix of mostly imported fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, and nuclear power. Power plants emit over 70 percent of greenhouse gases in Hong Kong. 89 percent of the total energy consumed in Hong Kong is by buildings, residential and commercial. The majority of that energy is used for air conditioning and lighting, which causes endemic pollution in the environment (EB, 2015a, 2015d).

Since most of the energy consumed in Hong Kong is by residential and commercial buildings, the responsibility of energy conservation and efficiency has fallen on the entire community. In order to do its part for the global environment and to improve energy safety, security, affordability, and reliability, the Hong Kong government is encouraging Hong Kong people to become more “energy aware” and “energy wise”. It has identified energy conservation and efficiency through formal and non-formal education to be an effective and successful strategy to meet its energy intensity reduction target of 40 percent by 2020 on 2005 levels and one that needs expanding and developing (EB, 2015d).  In order to tackle pressing environmental problems, Hong Kong has implemented non-formal and formal education strategies since the early 1990s. There is an exhaustive list of formal and non-formal education strategies that have been implemented by the government, community, and non-governmental organisations. This entry will only refer to those which have made the most lasting impact on energy conservation and efficiency.

3. Non-Formal Education

Non-formal education in energy conservation and efficiency has mostly been promoted by collaborative government initiatives with community and school support. At the beginning of the 1990s, public education and social mobilisation strategies were very much seen as non-formal grassroots movements. In 1990, for example, the community based Environmental Campaign Committee (ECC) was established to engage the community through publicity and educational programmes to ‘promote public awareness of environmental issues and to encourage the public to actively contribute to a better environment’ (ECC, 2012a). It has since created numerous non-formal education programmes such as roving exhibitions, seminars on global warming and climate change, drama performances about green lifestyles, and a book series on low carbon living (ECC, 2012b).   

In the mid-1990s to early 2000s, environmental strategies started to shift to schools in an effort to engage young people in sustainable development and environmental citizenship (Tsang & Lee, 2014). Set-up in 1995, the Student Environmental Protection Ambassador Scheme (SEPAS) is designed to promote and support government and community initiatives, to enhance environmental awareness and to develop a sense of responsibility among young people. It is supported by the government run Environmental Protection Department (Environmental Protection Department, 2005a). It has organised many energy conservation and efficiency activities such as camps, exhibitions, trainings, and dramas. In 2006, SEPAS collaborated with the community for the Action Blue Sky Campaign in order to reduce pollution by setting air conditioners to an optimum temperature and encouraging the use of energy saving appliances. The subsequent success of this campaign has led to a continuing effort to promote and provide information about how to conduct these practices via government run websites (GovHK, 2015). By 2007, 805 Hong Kong schools were participating in SEPAS (EPD, 2007)

Another major breakthrough for energy conservation and efficiency practice in schools came in 1999 through the Green School Award (GSA) for pre-schools and primary and secondary schools organised by the Environmental Campaign Committee in collaboration with the then Education and Manpower Bureau. The GSA encourages schools to create environmental policies and environmental management plans to enhance environmental awareness and develop environmentally friendly attitudes among school managers, teachers, non-teaching staff, students, and parents (ECC, 2012c). Schools in Hong Kong would receive an award if they measured up to energy saving standards set by the Hong Kong Green Building Council.

Aside from school and community initiatives, more recently, with the prevalence of and accessibility to modern technology and the internet, Hong Kong government departments have set up websites for public education and social mobilisation purposes. One example is the Energy Saving for All website which notifies the public of campaigns, competitions, and awards such as the Solar Car Competition and Youth Energy Award. This promotes student-centred learning and the development of skills. The comprehensive website has valuable information about energy conservation and efficiency practices where the public can learn how to take individualised steps to lead a “greener life” (EB, 2015b).

4. Formal Education

Formal education approaches to energy conservation and efficiency have not been as long established or as extensive as non-formal education approaches. In Hong Kong, environmental studies/science has never been studied as a formal subject in primary or secondary schools and as a result has always existed on the margins (Tsang & Lee, 2014). Over recent years however, despite a demanding curriculum, it has experienced some development.

In 1992, the Curriculum Development Council (CDC) published the non-mandatory “Guidelines on Environmental Education (EE) in Schools” which aimed at producing lifelong learning, promoting energy conservation and efficiency practices and concern for the environment through a cross-curricula approach. In 1996/97, General Studies, which included EE, was introduced into primary schools, and in secondary schools EE was incorporated across the curriculum into science subjects, geography, and Liberal Studies (EPD, 2005b). In 2009, with the introduction of the New Secondary School Curriculum (NSSC), environmental education was formally included as a core subject within Liberal Studies. Along with this formal education approach, non-formal approaches as part of the NSSC included project learning and life education (Tsang & Lee, 2014).  In 2013, there were further developments in the Liberal Studies curriculum which included a module, “Energy technology and the environment.” This module explored ‘how the applications of energy and technology improve people’s quality of life and impact the environment.’  For energy conservation and efficiency in particular, teachers are encouraged to explore global solutions to sustainable development with their students by, for example, investigating bicycle transport in various cities in Europe and Japan and deciding whether it is feasible to practice similar energy conservation and clean air practices in Hong Kong (CDC, 2013).

In addition to the Liberal Studies curriculum, the Hong Kong government stated in its Energy Saving Plan (ESP), released in 2015, that it intends to ‘update schools and public education programmes’ (EB, 2015d, p. 6). However, as of November 2015, what those plans will entail has not been released to the public.

5. Consensus, Challenges, and Limitations

As Hong Kong people become more environmentally aware and responsible, their attitudes towards education for sustainable development have shifted over the years from community grass roots approaches to a demand for top-down, government led initiatives. A public consultation in 2007-2008 ‘indicated that Hong Kong people have high aspirations to achieve higher energy efficiency’ (Wong, 2011, p. 220). Additionally, in 2009, a public opinion survey carried out by Hong Kong Baptist University showed that there was a consensus and willingness to save energy. In 2015 with the release of the Energy Saving Plan (ESP) document, the Secretary of the Environment, K.S. Wong, exclaimed that ‘over 13,000 Hong Kong people responded to the Public Consultation on the Future Development of the Electricity Market document.’ Also, they noted a clear consensus from stakeholders, non-governmental organisations and the public for DSM (demand-side management) measures like energy conservation and efficiency to be taken into account for the period from 2015-2020.  

On the other hand, the HKBU survey also discovered that Hong Kong people were pragmatic when it came to energy conservation and efficiency and that they prioritised materialistic lifestyles: ‘the dominant value of Hong Kongers is the pursuit of economic return’ (Wong, 2011, p. 214). Whether Hong Kong people wish to genuinely conserve energy and be efficient because of environmental concerns or whether a desire to save money is the driving motivator is in dispute. Perhaps more exploration around attitudes such as these could inform later policy. Clearly more research as to Hong Kong people’s motives for energy saving is needed.

An alternative view to the evidence for general consensus in energy conservation and efficiency is found by Alice (2004) who claimed that ‘most students exhibit low levels of interest in “green behaviour” and participating in voluntary environmental activities’ (Tsang & Lee, 2014, p. 210). This implies not necessarily a lack of consensus but rather a feeling of apathy, and is especially challenging to non-formal education campaigns which rely on enthusiasm from participants. Tsang and Lee (2014) also cite further in the education sector when initiating ESD in Hong Kong such as insufficient support for teachers, inadequate teacher training, a lack of resources and funding, and preparation time. Another challenge for the education sector, especially in regard to formal education, is cultural and societal. According to White (2013), Confucian Hong Kong’s societal preferences for education are based on exam preparation and there is pressure on students to gain top exam results. Therefore, if ESD topics are not featured in examinations, there will be little incentive for Hong Kong students to fully engage in learning and to retain the material.

Another issue is language. Accessible online material regarding EE/ESD is not always congruent with all audiences in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is an ethnically diverse city with literate and educated people who speak, read and write in a variety of languages. Publicity campaigns, leaflets, education packages, and teaching resources are usually distributed in either Chinese or English. A prime example is the Chinese teaching kits in the secondary school physics curriculum (EE, n.d.), which would be quite useless to students who only read English. Energy conservation and efficiency concerns all stakeholders in Hong Kong and without access to knowledge regarding these strategies their effectiveness comes under scrutiny.

6. Conclusion

Hong Kong has a range of measures for implementing energy conservation and efficiency practices and is making a good attempt to capture the public’s attention through public education and social mobilisation in order to become energy aware and wise. However, realistically and pragmatically Hong Kong people lean culturally towards a materialistic view of life which inhibits their action to live green lifestyles. As a result, it is difficult to conclude whether formal and non-formal education strategies over the past two and a half decades have been responsible for a greater effort from Hong Kong people to live greener lifestyles. Is it due to a realisation of money savings or genuine environmental concerns?

Some formal and non-formal education strategies are limited in their effectiveness. They rely on the enthusiasm of the participants, the inclusion of ESD in the examination system, and teacher training. Additionally, as Hong Kong people become more globally aware to the challenges of climate change and dwindling energy supplies, consensus indicates that they would like to see more renewable energy deployed in Hong Kong. However, Hong Kong’s limited space and existing energy supply contracts are a hindrance to progress (EB, 2015a). Hong Kong will become more energy conservative and efficient in the long term; however, that may be too late. Looking to the future, hopefully the strategies employed by Hong Kong in becoming more energy conservative and efficient will have a positive effect on other places around the world with similar cultural, economic, social, and environmental contexts.   


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Tsang, E.P.K. & Lee, J.C.K. (2014). ESD Projects, Initiatives and Research in Hong Kong and Mainland China. In J. Chi-Kin Lee & R. Efird. (Eds.). Schooling for Sustainable Development across the Pacific. Netherlands: Springer.

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White, L. (2013). NGOs and Education for Sustainable Development: Comparison of Education Opportunities for Secondary Schools in Hong Kong by UNESCO and WWF (Unpublished MEd Thesis). The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

Wong, K.K. (2011). Towards a Lightgreen Society for Hong Kong, China: Citizen Perceptions. International Journal of Environmental Studies, 68(2), 209-227. doi: 10.1080/00207233.2010.544858

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[1] “The energy intensity of an economy (energy demand per unit of economic output) is a measure of the amount of energy it takes to produce a dollar’s worth of economic output.” (EB, 2015d)


Figure 1    Population increase vs per capita electricity consumption in Hong Kong, 1990-2012 (C&S)

Figure 1 Population increase vs per capita electricity consumption in Hong Kong, 1990-2012 (C&S)


About the Author

Samuel Joseph Craig

MEd, The University of Hong Kong