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2010-11 Policy Address by Chief Executive (13)

E. Social Stability

Investment in Education

134. The Government attaches great importance to education.  Education is the largest single expenditure item in our budget, representing over 20% of total government recurrent expenditure.  We will continue to allocate resources to provide quality and diversified education for our people and nurture talent for the community.

Multiple Study Pathways

135. We provide multiple and flexible pathways for our young people.  Degree programmes organised by 13 institutions aside, many local post-secondary institutions offer sub-degree programmes covering various disciplines.  Youngsters have many other options in continuing education and vocational training.

136. We will step up efforts to diversify our post-secondary education.  We propose to set up a fund with a total commitment of $2.5 billion for the development of self-financing post-secondary education. The fund will offer scholarships to students of self-financing post-secondary programmes, and support institutions to enhance the quality of teaching and learning.

137. In addition, we propose to increase publicly-funded first-year-first-degree places to 15 000 for each cohort from the 2012-13 academic year.  Taking into account the views of the University Grants Committee, we also recommend that senior year intake places should be doubled progressively to 4 000 each year to provide more articulation opportunities for sub-degree graduates.  The proposed additional places will involve an additional annual expenditure of about $1 billion.  Upon full implementation, over 30% of our young people in the relevant age group will have the chance to take self-financing or publicly-funded degree programmes.  Including sub-degree places, young people attending local post-secondary programmes will account for about 65% of the age group, more than double the level of about 30% a decade ago.

138. The community is concerned about the interest rate and repayment arrangements for loans to post-secondary students.  The Government has commenced a review on all non-means-tested loan schemes for post-secondary students.  The review covers the scope of eligible programmes, loan amounts, interest rates and repayment arrangements under the schemes, as well as measures to reduce the default rate. We are drawing up detailed recommendations for further consultation with the public at the end of this year.

Youth Development

Temporary Work Opportunities for Young People

139. While overall employment in Hong Kong has improved recently, the unemployment rate among young people remains high.  We have decided to extend to March 2012 the 3 000 temporary work opportunities created for young people aged between 15 and 29 to gain work experience.

Mainland Volunteer Service under the Service Corps Programme

140. Many of us were moved by the selfless act of Hong Kong volunteer Mr Wong Fuk-wing, who sacrificed his life to save others during the earthquake in Yushu, Qinghai.  Many Hong Kong people are passionate about voluntary work and render volunteer service in both Hong Kong and the Mainland.  The Government plans to form a "Service Corps" in the coming year to recruit and provide financial support for senior secondary school leavers, tertiary students and working youths aged between 18 and 29 to serve in underprivileged areas in the Mainland for 6 to 12 months by providing training on, for example, education, hygiene and environmental protection.

The Auxiliary Medical Service Cadet Corps

141. The Auxiliary Medical Service (AMS) will set up a cadet corps next year aiming to recruit 1 000 members in five years. The AMS cadet corps will encourage young people aged between 12 and 17 to develop practical skills and leadership through group activities and training, and help them build self-confidence, a sense of responsibility, self-discipline and the spirit to serve.

Cyber Youth Support

142. In view of the changing lifestyle of youths, we will introduce pilot Cyber Youth Outreach Projects with funding support from the Lotteries Fund.  Under these projects, we will reach out through the Internet to youths in need, particularly those identified as at-risk or hidden, for timely support services to them.

Anti-drug Initiatives

143. Our territory-wide campaign against drug abuse in the past two years has garnered community support.  The youth drug abuse problem has shown some signs of easing.  But we must not be complacent.  

144. Schools are an important platform for fighting drugs. The Trial Scheme on School Drug Testing in Tai Po launched last year ran smoothly.  We have decided to extend the scheme for one year in order to gain further practical experience.  An evaluation research will soon be completed.  In light of its recommendations, we will engage stakeholders to map out the way forward for school drug testing.  We also plan to step up school social work services in all secondary schools by a 20% increase in manpower.  The fight against drug abuse is a protracted war.  The Government will continue its anti-drug efforts using a five-pronged approach, spanning social mobilisation, community support, law enforcement, treatment and drug testing.

(To be continued)

Ends/Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Issued at HKT 12:32


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