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By Richard Robison

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New approaches to learning are seen to be an essential prerequisite if the needs of the new economy are to be met. No matter how well-developed education systems are, if they are characterised by traditional academic curriculum, traditional forms of rote learning, traditional examination based assessment practices, they are not likely to produce citizens who can contribute to a new ideas based economy. This is a fundamental plank in current curriculum reform agendas in those parts of Asia where further development is premised on technology-driven economic development.

Lifelong Learning and All-round Developmentā€ is our expectation of everyone in this era. Education is infinitely important for everyone. (Para. 3) The development of citizenship curriculum in Hong Kong has to be understood within this multifaceted context of change in Hong Kong. Citizenship education has become a contentious topic since the change of sovereignty was confirmed in 1984 by the Joint Lee 31 Declaration of the British and Chinese governments. Before the handover in 1997, debates and discussions pervaded society over how citizenship education should be develop thereafter.

Yet in the future, all citizens will need to have knowledge, skills and dispositions that will enable them to engage with civic issues. The kind of assessment associated with the reforms can achieve this objective because it is focused on the individual, but external tests imposed on schools for accountability purposes cannot. Aggregated data might provide indicators of system level learning, but they cannot help individuals to learn. Assessment needs to provide feedback to individuals so that they can improve their learning and, unless it does this, learning becomes defined by test results.

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