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LCQ15: School-based After-school Learning and Support Programmes

    Following is a question by the Hon Frederick Fung and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (November 21):


     Regarding the School-based After-school Learning and Support ("SALS") Programmes, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the respective percentages of successful applications submitted by schools and non-governmental organizations ("NGOs") in the total number of applications in the 2006-2007 school year, and the reasons for not approving the remaining applications, and of the respective numbers and percentages of schools and students benefited and the number of participating NGOs in each district, broken down by the type of school and the district where the school is located;

(b) whether it has assessed if the revised mode of funding adopted in the 2006-2007 school year can facilitate the organizations concerned in providing support services to poor students in districts where there are relatively more such students, and establishing support networks; if it can, of the details, and how such networks can serve the purpose of reducing inter-generational poverty; if it cannot, the reasons for that;

(c) of the results of its evaluation of the effectiveness of the SALS Programmes so far since their implementation, including the nature and forms of the activities, the average amount of grant per student, the participation and completion rates, the views of the relevant stakeholders (including school principals, teachers, students, parents, front-line social workers and heads of NGOs), and the effectiveness of the Programmes in alleviating poverty; and

(d) whether it will consider increasing the amount of the annual recurrent provision for the SALS Programmes, and relaxing the restrictions on the items for which the grant can be used (e.g. allowing schools to provide assistance in kind to poor students)?


Madam President,

(a) In the 2006/07 school year, the School-based After-school Learning and Support (SALS) Programmes included two parts: the School-based Grant and the Community-based Projects. All public sector primary and secondary schools and schools under the Direct Subsidy Scheme intending to organise SALS Programmes for their P1 to S7 students in receipt of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance or full grant under the Student Financial Assistance Scheme would be provided with the School-based Grant. A total of 960 schools received the School-based Grant, serving some 187300 target students in the 2006/07 school year. We have set out at Annex 1 information on the number and types of schools, the number and ratio of students involved as well as their respective districts.

     Regarding the Community-based Projects, we received a total of 234 applications for funding from non-government organizations (NGOs). Among them, 195 applications were approved, representing an approval rate of 83.3%. 39 applications were rejected because the applicant NGOs had not met the eligibility criteria, or the nature of the proposed activities failed to meet the ground rules. A breakdown, by districts, of the successful applications from NGOs is at Annex 2.

(b) With the introduction of the revised financing mode in the 2006/07 school year, the overall number of students benefited increased substantially from 49600 in the 2005/06 school year to 187300. The overall number of schools covered also increased from 303 in the 2005/06 school year to 960. We have set out at Annex 3 a comparison of the number of students served and the number of schools covered in the different districts, including those districts with a relatively larger number of disadvantaged students.

     It is worth noting that in the 2005/06 school year, the SALS Programmes were implemented with reference to the needs of individual schools or collaborating schools. However, with the revision of the financing mode in the 2006/07 school year, the Community-based Projects were implemented by a total of 175 NGOs in different districts. We believe that the participation of NGOs would lead to a better utilisation of community resources to support the disadvantaged students in the districts, with a view to improving their learning effectiveness, broadening their learning experiences outside the classroom, and raising their understanding of the community and sense of belonging. The establishment of a district service network in the long run will have a positive effect on disadvantaged students and will help achieve the objective of alleviating intergenerational poverty.  

(c) We introduced the SALS Programmes in the 2005/06 school year and revised the financing mode in the 2006/07 school year after consulting stakeholders. The method of evaluation was also slightly revised. In the 2005/06 school year, schools and NGOs were required to submit their proposals on programmes to be conducted when applying for funding. Successful schools and NGOs were required to submit an annual report to evaluate the effectiveness of their programmes. The report should assess whether the programmes had been implemented in accordance with the design and objectives, the participation and completion rate, feedback from students and parents on the SALS Programmes and other outcome measures included in the programme plan, as well as academic or affective outcome such as engagement in learning, academic attainment, attitudes, etc.

     Through school visits and regular meetings with representatives of the stakeholders, the Education Bureau (EDB) collected views on the SALS Programmes from the stakeholders, including principals, teachers, responsible persons in NGOs, social workers, students and parents.

     Having consolidated the annual reports of the SALS Programmes in the 2005/06 school year, an analysis of the relevant information, including participation rate and the views of the stakeholders is at Annex 4. Based on the actual total amount of grants disbursed and the actual total number of participating students, the average grant per student was $1176.

     Under the revised financing mode in the 2006/07 school year, the SALS Programmes included the School-based Grant and the Community-based Projects. In order to reduce the workload of teachers, schools in receipt of the School-based Grant were only required to include in their Annual School Plans programmes aiming at alleviating poverty of the disadvantaged students, and to report in their Annual School Reports the actual number of disadvantaged students served as well as the evaluation on the effectiveness of the programmes. This information is to be uploaded by the schools to their school homepages. The EDB would make reference to the information uploaded to assess the utilisation and effectiveness of the School-based Grant. As for the Community-based Projects, the format of evaluation has remained unchanged since the 2005/06 school year. Since the Community-based Projects for 2006/07 school year have just been completed, we are verifying the relevant annual reports and consolidating the information being returned by NGOs.

     For the 2005/06 and 2006/07 school years, the types of activities organised under the SALS Programmes included tuition classes, cultural and arts activities, sports activities, leadership training, voluntary work, visits, etc.

(d) The SALS Programmes aim to facilitate the personal growth and all-round development of disadvantaged students. Subsidising the disadvantaged students to participate in activities organised by schools and NGOs is considered more effective than providing students with material assistance in meeting the objectives of the Programmes and in bringing about positive and sustainable effects on the beneficiaries.

     The SALS Programmes are complementary in nature. Apart from the Programmes, the EDB has been providing schools with other types of grants. Based on the needs of their students, schools can deploy the various grants allocated (such as the Operating Expenses Block Grant) to provide appropriate support to the disadvantaged students. In addition, schools and NGOs may participate in or apply to join activities and schemes organised by other Bureaux and charitable trust funds to support the disadvantaged students.

     The revised financing mode of the SALS Programmes has only been implemented for less than two years. The Programmes need time to take root and to form a sustainable impact on students. Meanwhile, we will continue to keep in view the implementation and take into consideration the views of stakeholders.

Ends/Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Issued at HKT 19:16


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