Former Hong Kong chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor Photo: RTHK

Former Hong Kong chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who started her election campaign for the city’s top job last week, has given the current administration a failing grade for education.

“When I talk about continuing the good policies of the current government, I am only referring to housing, land, poverty alleviation, elderly, welfare and environmental policies,” Lam said in a stand-up briefing after meeting with some members of the Election Committee that gets to pick the next chief executive. “There is room for education policy to improve.”

It is the first time Lam has publicly criticized policies that she was ultimately responsible for — Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim was her subordinate. But when asked if she would scrap the deeply unpopular Territory-wide System Assessment examination (recently renamed the Basic Competency Assessment), Lam said she wouldn’t comment until she had met representatives from the education sector.

In late 2015, thousands of parents demanded the government scrap the TSA through online campaigns and demonstrations. The protests led the government to suspend the exams for primary 3 pupils — aged around seven or eight years.

The Education Bureau this week launched the new BCA, which it said should be adopted by all schools. Ng said defended the new scheme, which he said should not add to the homework burden of pupils.

On Thursday, former financial secretary and rival candidate John Tsang Chun-wah pledged to scrap the assessment scheme if he wins the election in March. Third candidate and former security minister Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee promised to suspend the TSA until a better system is figured out.

Also in the running for chief executive are retired High Court justice Woo Kwok-hing and a former member of a pro-Beijing party, Wu Sai-chuen.