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LCQ19: Evening adult education courses

    Following is a question by the Hon Tsang Yok-sing and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (October 24):


     It has been reported that the Hong Kong Association for Continuing Education has criticised the Government's present policy of reviewing the Financial Assistance Scheme for Designated Evening Adult Education Courses every three years, and has also pointed out that the results of the review on the 3-year Financial Assistance Scheme which has been implemented since the 2005-2006 school year will affect the financial assistance to be received by students enrolled in these courses in the 2008-2009 school year. However, up till now, the Government has not yet provided information on this. The Association has also criticised the inadequacy of the above Financial Assistance Scheme as it only caters for students in Secondary 4 or above and subsidises only 30% of the tuition fees. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it has completed the above review; if it has, of the results; if not, when it will announce the results of the review;

(b) of the number of students currently enrolled in the evening junior secondary courses (i.e. Secondary One to Three) run by government secondary schools, and how the Government assists those, among such students, who need financial assistance; and

(c) whether it will make the above Financial Assistance Scheme a permanent one, without having to review it again after three years; if it will, of the progress; if not, the reasons for that?


Madam President,

     The Financial Assistance Scheme for Designated Evening Adult Education Courses, to be implemented from 2005/06 to 2007/08 school years, was approved by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council in May 2005. The aim of the scheme is to provide financial assistance to adult learners in designated evening adult education courses, thereby facilitating the learners to complete mainstream senior secondary school education and sit for the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination.

     The scheme covers evening senior secondary courses (Secondary Four to Seven) offered by approved course operators in designated government school centres. Learners meeting the prescribed requirements, such as having at least 80% attendance, are eligible for a reimbursement of 30% of the course fees. Needy learners who are eligible for full assistance under the means test administered by the Student Financial Assistance Agency would be reimbursed in full (100% of the course fees). The number of learners who have participated in the scheme and the number of those provided with assistance in the past two years are as follows:

                     Number of      Number of
School   Enrolment   learners       learners      
year                 provided       provided  
                     with 30%       with 100%
                   reimbursement  reimbursement
                       of the         of the    
                    course fees    course fees
2005/06    1 202        516             92
2006/07    1 119        473             96
Total      2 321        989            188

     Our reply to the specific questions raised is as follows:

(a) When launching the scheme in 2005, the Administration undertook to conduct a review in the 2007/08 school year to assess its effectiveness. The review would examine various aspects of the scheme, including enrolment, implementation period, coverage and subsidy levels. We would consult the learners and the interested parties in this process, and would present its outcome to the Legislative Council Panel on Education.

(b) Currently, the scheme does not cover courses in Secondary One to Three. However, in order to meet the needs of adult learners with low education level (i.e. below Secondary Three) who wish to upgrade their educational qualifications, the Administration has subsidised the Vocational Training Council (VTC) to offer a Certificate of Foundation Studies from January 2007 on a pilot basis. About 75 learners have enrolled in the course. Learners facing financial hardship and satisfying the means test administered by the VTC would be fully subsidised (i.e. 100% of the course fees would be reimbursed).

(c) When the scheme was introduced in 2005, the Administration undertook to conduct a review in the third year of operation (i.e. in the 2007/08 school year) to assess its effectiveness. In this connection, we would conduct a comprehensive review to examine various aspects, including the implementation period of the scheme.

Ends/Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Issued at HKT 14:16


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