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Policy Address initiatives to nurture the next generation

     The Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, has today (January 15) in his Policy Address highlighted initiatives to foster a culture of multi-faceted excellence and help nurture young people through education, employment and whole-person development.

     "Young people should develop a positive approach to life and a sense of social awareness," the Chief Executive said.

     "They should take an interest in the development of Hong Kong and our country and cultivate an international vision.

     "They should attach importance to both individual rights and social obligations."

     Mr Leung announced a comprehensive strategy for developing Hong Kong's human capital, including support for kindergarten education and underprivileged students, promoting higher education and vocational training and fostering life planning and all-round development.

     To ease the financial burden of kindergarten education on parents, the Government will increase the voucher value of the Pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme by $2,500 per year in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 school years.

     Three Community Care Fund learning support programmes will be incorporated into the Government's regular assistance programme from the next school year. These three measures will benefit about 270 000 eligible students.

     The Chief Executive said the Government will provide students with more opportunities for higher education by:

* Increasing senior-year undergraduate places in University Grants Committee-funded institutions to 5 000 sub-degree graduates by the 2018/19 academic year;

* Studying the feasibility of a new scheme to subsidise up to 1 000 students per cohort to pursue self-financing undergraduate programmes in selected disciplines;

* Introducing a Mainland University Study Subsidy Scheme;

* Implementing a new scholarship programme for up to 100 outstanding local students each cohort to study outside Hong Kong with a scholarship up to $250,000 and a means-tested bursary up to $200,000 each year; and

* Setting up a $100 million scholarship fund to encourage universities and tertiary institutions to admit about 20 local students a year who excel in sport, arts and community service from the 2015/16 academic year.

     The Government will launch two new projects under the Youth Hostel Scheme in Mong Kok and Jordan which, together with existing projects in Sheung Wan and Tai Po, will provide about 1 000 hostel places.

     The Government will step up support for students with special education needs studying in ordinary schools by increasing the level of the Learning Support Grant by 30 per cent.

     "The Government should re-establish the positioning of vocational education in our education system," Mr Leung said.

     To strengthen vocational training, the Chief Executive said that a Task Force on Vocational Education would be set up to map out a strategy to promote vocational education in the community.

     Additional resources will be allocated to schools and non-governmental organisations to enhance life planning and career guidance for secondary students.

     The Government will also launch a pilot training and support scheme to attract and retain talent for industries with a keen demand for labour.

     "The Government and participating industries will provide a grant or an allowance for apprentices in the first year of training and the ensuing three years of apprenticeship," said Mr Leung.

     Recurrent funding will also be allocated to the Vocational Training Council to provide industrial attachment opportunities that would benefit more than 9 000 students.

     "Learning outside classroom settings can help students realise their potential in different areas, develop their character and multiple intelligences, and gain all-round learning experience," Mr Leung said.

     The Government will double the recurrent subvention for uniformed groups, such as the Scout Association, the Hong Kong Red Cross and the Hong Kong Road Safety Patrol, and increase the funding for the Assistance Scheme for Needy Student Members. The Cadet Corps of the Auxiliary Medical Service will also expand from 1 000 to 3 000 cadets in five years.

     The Government will earmark another $200 million on top of the original funding of $200 million for the Partnership Fund for the Disadvantaged.

     The additional funding will be provided on a matching fund basis through the Partnership Fund, and will be dedicated to launching more after-school learning and support programmes for primary and secondary students from grassroots families, Mr Leung said.

     The Government will launch its Fourth Strategy on Information Technology in Education this year. Major initiatives include the phased provision of wireless network services and other supporting facilities in all public sector schools from the next school year.

     Mr Leung said that students should be encouraged to expand their horizons beyond Hong Kong.

     "The Government is actively exploring the feasibility of extending the International Youth Exchange Programme to more places," he said.

     Places offered under government-sponsored Mainland exchange and internship programmes arranged by community organisations will increase from the current 9 600 to 14 000 next year.

     The Chief Executive said the Government would also seek to extend the Working Holiday Scheme programme to more countries.

Ends/Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Issued at HKT 13:15


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