Rapid growth in out-of-school science in Hong Kong

27 October 2017

The Croucher Foundation conducted the second annual mapping exercise for the out-of-school STEM learning ecosystem in Hong Kong.

The landscape for out-of-school STEM learning in Hong Kong is evolving. In 2017, to capture this change, the Croucher Foundation conducted a mapping exercise. This is the second annual mapping exercise conducted by the Croucher Foundation. It covers the period from 1 June 2016 to 31 May 2017.

The study reveals a rich and vibrant ecosystem for out-of-school STEM in Hong Kong with almost 2,000 discrete activities covering a very wide range of science disciplines. This represents a 76% increase in the number of activities compared to 2016 and an even larger increase – from 144 to 350 – in the number of organisations offering out-of-school STEM activities in Hong Kong.

“The Croucher Foundation believes all young people in Hong Kong deserve to be inspired by science and to have a sense of the relevance of science to their own lives,” said Professor Tak-Wah Mak, Chairman of the Croucher Foundation, “Out-of-school STEM education offers the potential for young people to engage with and learn about science on their own terms. Studies show that informal science learning may be particularly beneficial for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are more likely to find science subjects challenging and un-engaging at school.”

In 2016, the first annual mapping exercise discovered a vibrant community of people involved in running STEM activities in Hong Kong, but without much coordination. To link this community together, so that people can share ideas and resources more easily, in April 2017 the Croucher Foundation launched an informal network for STEM educators: the Hong Kong STEM Network.

“It is encouraging that our second mapping exercise revealed more systematic collaboration between providers of STEM learning activities,” said Professor Mak.

The study identified some practical pointers for STEM educators in relation to business strategy, content, pricing, marketing and communications, and customer relations. Almost all the parents surveyed (94%) in the 2017 mapping exercise would like their children to participate in more out-of-school STEM activities. Although there has been very rapid growth in the out-of-school STEM ecosystem over the past year, there is nothing in the findings to suggest that demand for out-of-school STEM activities has been exhausted.

In March 2017, the Education Bureau provided a one-off grant of HK$200,000 to each public secondary school to facilitate their implementation of STEM, after the provision of a HK$100,000 grant to primary schools in 2016. In her policy address on 11 October 2017, the Hon. Mrs Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region underlined the commitment of her administration to the development of STEM Education in Hong Kong.

“From a policy perspective, we trust that this snapshot of the out-of-school STEM learning ecosystem, with its associated digital maps, is a useful resource for planners and educators,” said Professor Mak, “Future versions of the mapping document will enable us to chart the landscape as it evolves and strengthens over time.”

To download the report and digital maps, please click here