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Through the Camera Lens: A Photography-based Study of Pedagogical Practices and Education Policy


Project Overview

The Through Our Eyes (TOE) Photography Education Programme provided a creative and engaging learning environment in which young people and the wider community were able to express themselves through the medium of photography. TOE was established to offer people new insights into seeing things from their own perspective, enabling them to break away from preconceived notions framed by existing visual images and rediscover the connections between their inner selves and their families, communities, cultures and social environments.


The TOE programme partnered with more than 50 secondary schools in 12 Hong Kong districts to conduct workshops on lens-based arts and relevant theoretical concepts for secondary school students. Among the 1,100 participants, the majority of the students involved were 16 to 19 years old. Through the university-secondary school partnership, the programme formulated a model of pedagogical development that encouraged artist-educators to expand teaching practices and address pressing social concerns, such as the city’s housing crisis and environmental degradation, through creative assignments. TOE programme artist-educators facilitated observation, reflection and discussion among the students.


More than two thirds (72%) of the secondary school students taking part in the programme said it had positively affected their art-making and photography skills. They also reported greater confidence in expressing their views and a stronger sense that their ideas and actions were valued. The TOE programme created a community of like-minded stakeholders, including experienced teachers, new teachers, artist-teachers, students and recent graduates seeking to gain practical experience in arts education. TOE offered co-learning spaces in which these individuals could learn collaboratively and provide further guidance for the development of the programme.


To support teaching and knowledge sharing, the TOE programme developed an online platform providing teaching resources for visual arts education. The platform was designed to illustrate best practice in photography teaching and learning. Class exercises, lesson plans and links were also provided to meet the different needs of visual arts teachers. The website was used by an expanding group of teachers. Through this platform, the TOE programme inspired teachers to take part in creative lesson planning and influenced their pedagogical practices. Knowledge-sharing events targeting teachers and artist-teachers who wanted to explore creative ways of teaching and learning were also organised for the sharing of innovative pedagogy among teachers.


The success of the TOE programme was further demonstrated by its contribution to public policy research in arts development and education in Hong Kong. The programme provided useful quantitative data for a public policy initiative named “Arts Development and Education in Facilitating the Role of Hong Kong as a Cultural Hub of the Region”, commissioned by the Central Policy Unit of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.


Findings from the TOE programme show that students’ engagement in art activities increased, and that learning abilities and well-being were also improved following their participation. The public profile of TOE also raised awareness and appreciation of practice-based visual arts learning in Hong Kong’s secondary schools. With more than 200 media reports in newspapers as well as radio and television broadcasts, the TOE programme was able to successfully promote the benefits of visual arts in education and student development.


The five-year TOE programme had a critical influence on visual arts pedagogical practices and education policy in Hong Kong. Established by the Centre for Research and Development in Visual Arts (CRDVA) in 2014, the artist-led pedagogy improved the quality of teaching and learning of visual arts in secondary schools. Funded by the Robert HN Ho Family Foundation, more than 10,000 people participated in TOE public events and training activities. Over 1,100 students aged 12 to 19 from diverse social backgrounds were involved in the project with a subsequent increase in students’ engagement in art activities.


  • Lee, W. K., & Tam, H. N.  Photography, partnership  and  public  education: A comparative case study of Through Our Eyes (TOE) Photography Education Programme and ‘Porcelain Photo in Hong Kong’ knowledge transfer project. Paper presented at the 2018 InSEA Asia Regional Congress and 7th World Chinese Art Education Symposium, Hong Kong.
  • Mak, H. S. A. (Ed.). From the factories. Hong Kong: Centre for Research and Development in Visual Arts, Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University. (2014).
  • Mak, H. S. A. “Hong Kong needs factory building.” From the factories. Ed. H. S. A. Mak. Hong Kong: Centre for Research and Development in Visual Arts, Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University, 2014. 144–154.
  • Wong, S. K. (Ed) A living space: The homes of Pak Sha O. Hong Kong: Centre for Research and Development in Visual Arts, Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University. 2015

Contact Our Researchers

Mr Kalen Lee

Mr Kalen Lee

Academy of Visual Arts




Understanding Self and Society through Photography: Influencing Visual Arts Pedagogical Practices and Education Policy in Hong Kong