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LCQ 2: Continuing Education Fund


    Following is a question by the Hon Ronny Tong and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Professor Arthur K C Li, in the Legislative Council today (April 20):

Question :

    The Continuing Education Fund ("CEF"), which provides continuing education and training subsidies for adults aspiring to pursuing their studies, does not accept applications by the elderly over 60 years of age.  Moreover, the Adult Education Subvention Scheme (AESS) does not cover any degree courses.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) how it encourages the elderly over 60 years of age to continue to study and work;

(b) as Hong Kong's population is ageing steadily, whether it will review the eligibility criteria for CEF applicants in order to enable more elderly people to be provided with subsidy for continuing education; and

(c) whether it will consider extending AESS to cover degree courses?


Madam President,

    CEF was established with the objective of developing suitable manpower to support Hong Kong's transformation into a knowledge-based economy.  CEF also helps our workforce pursue continuing education so as to upgrade themselves to cope with the forever changing needs of the society and the economy.  Accordingly, the coverage of CEF focuses on the pillar industries of our economy (e.g. finance, tourism, business, etc.) and generic skills that are required in the workplace (such as languages, inter-personal skills, creativity, etc.).

(a) Since the main service targets of CEF are in-service workers, an age limit of 60 was set. There are currently many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) offering various forms of services to the elderly people, including educational activities such as courses on computer usage.  Elderly people who would like to pursue continuing education can also enroll in programmes run by the Open University and other extra-mural courses of the universities.

    As regards employment services, the Labour Department has set up special counters in all Job Centres to provide priority employment services for elderly job-seekers aged 50 or above.  They can also make use of the Telephone Employment Service after registration at Job Centres or through the Interactive Employment Service on the internet.  In addition, more personalised employment service is also provided under the Job Matching Programme.  Where necessary, elderly job-seekers will also be referred to enroll in retraining courses offered by the Employees Retraining Board.  

(b) In view of the objective of CEF and to ensure that the limited resources available are effectively directed to meet the changing manpower needs brought about by our transformation into a knowledge-based economy, we have no plan to change the current age limit.

(c) The Government subsidises NGOs to run informal adult education courses through AESS.  The objective is to provide basic courses of short duration for those with low education attainment and the new arrivals.  In view of the objective and the service targets of AESS, it is considered not appropriate to extend it to cover degree courses or other formal education courses.

Ends/Wednesday, April 20, 2005


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