HPE relaunches “Home Economics/Technology and Living” programme to enhance teachers’ domestic science knowledge

Dr Eric Poon says in a TVB programme that the 10-week long course is designed to help in-service teachers in the city to understand the underlying scientific knowledge behind preparing a dish. (Photo credit: screencap from YouTube)

The Department of Health and Physical Education (HPE) launched a new Certificate in Professional Development Programme on Learning and Teaching in Home Economics / Technology and Living” [PDP(HE/T&L)], to better in-service teachers’ domestic science knowledge and reverse the decline of home economics education.

Dr Eric Poon Tsz-chun, Assistant Professor of the department, said that there is a serious shortage of home economics teachers after a similar programme was suspended for more than 10 years. “The relaunched programme, which will cover a wide range of topics – such as food and nutrition, fashion and textiles, and family studies – has been well-received by the teaching profession, with more than twice as many applications as there are available places. It reflects the strong demand for this type of brush-up course from the education sector,” Dr Poon explained.

According to a research report published by the University last year, local young adults lack the knowledge to select healthy meals and tend to choose nutritionally inadequate, pre-packaged foods. The research also noted that more public education is needed to raise awareness around the importance of having a balanced diet, and to change people’s eating habits. However, Hong Kong currently lacks educators who have the expertise to teach this in schools.

“Although food science is a relatively new discipline, it has been growing very fast in the past two decades as a result of people’s increasing concerns about the relationship between health, food and nutrients. Alongside the development of food science, home economics has undergone substantial changes in the past two decades, with a stronger emphasis on food technology too,” the scholar in exercise nutrition and physiology said. “The 10-week long course is designed to help in-service teachers in the city understand the underlying scientific knowledge behind preparing a dish.”


Supplemented by kitchen demonstration

Students of the Certificate in Professional Development Programme practise how to prepare a dish in a kitchen-cum-classroom under the instruction of Mr Francis Chau (far left).

Students prepare a pizza made from flour, olive oil, baking powder, and other ingredients.

Students visit Yuet Wo Sauce and Preserved Fruits’ manufacturing plant in Sheung Shui to learn about how different kinds of sauces and preserved fruits are made.

Students listen to a briefing about the production of sauces and preserved fruits by an on-site staff member of the manufacturing plant.

Packed with lectures about food and nutritional sciences, the brush-up programme designed for in-service teachers is also supplemented by many hours of demonstration in a kitchen-cum-classroom setting and a visit to the manufacturing plant of a famous local food brand. Course lecturer and demonstrator Mr Francis Chau said that through its hands-on and experiential approach, the course aims to teach participants the scientific principles underlying the cooking of food, such as fermentation or the growth of yeast in the baking process.

“The home economics discipline has witnessed many changes. Just 20 or 30 years ago, home economics simply meant teaching students how to follow the steps and procedures in a recipe to prepare a dish. Now, we want our students to understand what happens while preparing a dish, like pizza or bread, from a food and nutritional sciences perspective,” Mr Chau said.

The new PDP(HE/T&L) programme is divided into two sections: “food and nutrition” and “fashion and textiles”. While the food and nutrition part will cover the latest food preparation and processing techniques to cope with recent eating habits, the fashion and textiles segment will explore topics like sustainability in the clothing industry and the effects of certain chemicals on the environment.


Enable more schools to teach children in nutrition, technology, and living

Dr Andy Tse Choi-yeung, Acting Head of HPE, said: “Young people need to learn about things like nutrition, dietetics, textiles, sustainability, consumption, and technology in order to make informed choices, such as what clothes to buy, what food to eat, and how to keep fit and healthy. Through the relaunch of the PDP(HE/T&L) programme, we want to enable more schools to teach children about nutrition, technology and living, and give these schools a fresh impetus to encourage students to learn about these important matters.”

The 10-week PDP(HE/T&L) programme ran between February and April 2023. Participants who completed the programme received a Professional Development Certificate as a proof of their knowledge in the subject. Meanwhile, students taking the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (Secondary) programme at EdUHK can choose home economics/technology and living as their major starting from the new academic year of 2023/24. The new PGDE programme aims to meet needs in the market for teachers who have the right knowledge and skills to teach home economics, technology, and living. It received an encouraging response from those pursuing a profession in education, with the number of applicants exceeding available places by ten times.

HPE regularly organises various seminars to promote nutrition education and the importance of eating healthily. Mr Francis Chau poses in the Home Economics and Nutritional Health Webinar.

Dr Eric Poon poses in the same seminar.