Applied learning policy in Hong Kong as a contribution to lifelong learning

Richard Gordon BAGNALL, Koon Lin WONG

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Applied learning (ApL) policy in Hong Kong was developed within an educational reform framework to enhance the contribution of secondary schooling to lifelong learning. This paper presents a critical assessment of the policy and its implementation from a lifelong learning perspective. It draws on a review of official documentation and interviews with key stakeholders involved in the 2003-09 developmental trials of ApL policy. Data from stakeholder interviews with policy developers, providers, school leadership personnel, course coordinators, teachers, and students were collected from the trials during 2007 and 2008. It is argued that schooling directed to enhancing lifelong learning outcomes should contribute significantly to developing, not only students' understanding of one or more particular fields of knowledge, but also their commitment to broadening their horizons of understanding as to what might fruitfully be engaged with educationally, their commitment to lifelong engagement, and their capabilities to follow through on that commitment. Analysis of the documentation and interview data revealed that ApL provided the opportunity for a limited but significant contribution to lifelong learning for those students who engaged in it. While ApL maintained a traditional schooling focus on fields of knowledge, it was vocational rather than academic and, to that extent, it provided a broadening of participant educational horizons. For academically weaker participants, it also served to build their commitment to lifelong learning, through providing them with a rewarding educational engagement. ApL also contributed to the development of a range of generic skills and it presented a practical approach to learning: both of possible value to enhancing participants' capabilities to engage fruitfully in lifelong learning. Those contributions overall, though, were quite limited in extent, and there was no recognition of the need for a structured approach to developing lifelong learning commitment or capability through ApL policy. Copyright © 2014 Centre for Research in Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-118
JournalInternational Journal of Continuing Education & Lifelong Learning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Bagnall, R. G., & Wong, K. L. L. (2014). Applied learning policy in Hong Kong as a contribution to lifelong learning. International Journal of Continuing Education & Lifelong Learning, 7(1), 93-118.


  • Applied learning policy
  • Lifelong learning


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