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LCQ21: Quality Education Fund

     Following is a question by the Hon Ip Kin-yuen and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, in the Legislative Council today (June 17):


     The Quality Education Fund, which was established in January 1998 with an allocation of $5 billion from the Government, mainly caters for worthwhile non-profit making initiatives within the ambit of basic education. As indicated by the financial statements of the Fund for the year ended August 31, 2014 submitted by the authorities to this Council on May 6 this year, the surplus of the Fund for the year was about $804 million. The expenditure on grants and awards stood at $75,641,000 and the accumulated surplus was about $8,259 million. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the existing number of staff members in the Secretariat of the Fund (and the number of those among them who are responsible for handling applications for grants), and the payroll expenses last year;

(2) of the respective application procedures for grants exceeding $150,000 and not exceeding $150,000; the average length of time taken by the Assessment and Monitoring Sub-committee (the Sub-committee) under the Quality Education Fund Steering Committee (the Steering Committee) to vet and approve an application last year, the documents required to be submitted by the applicants, and the respective average numbers of pages of the various types of documents submitted by the applicants last year;

(3) of the number of projects financed by the Fund in each of the past five years, and set out a breakdown by project durations according to Annex 1.
(4) of the criteria adopted by the Sub-committee for assessing whether an application is an initiative; the respective titles of, and amounts of grants allotted to, the initiatives that were financed for the first time by the Fund in the past five years;

(5) given that in recent years, the projects financed by the Fund included subsidising schools to purchase equipment to set up campus television stations, introduce smart card systems, etc., why the recurrent funding provided by the Education Bureau (EDB) to schools may not be used for purchasing such basic equipment; whether the expenditure of the Fund is included in the recurrent expenditure on the field of education set down in the Budget every year;

(6) whether it has assessed why the accumulated surplus of the Fund has reached as much as $8,259 million;

(7) whether EDB and the Steering Committee have assessed, since establishment of the Fund, the effectiveness of the Fund and its contributions to education in Hong Kong; if they have, of the number of assessments made as well as the date and findings of each assessment; if not, the reasons for that; and

(8) of the strategy formulated by EDB in respect of the future development of the Fund, and how EDB ensures the proper utilisation of the resources under the Fund?



     Established on January 2, 1998 with a provision of $5,000 million from the Government, the Quality Education Fund (QEF) funds various worthwhile projects that aim to raise the quality of school education and to promote quality school education at all levels.  The QEF is administered under a trust with the Permanent Secretary for Education Incorporated as the trustee, who approves grants for worthwhile projects and signs with each grantee an agreement setting out the terms and conditions of the grant. A Steering Committee was set up under the QEF to advise the Government on the policies and procedures governing the operation of the QEF. The Steering Committee is supported by a Secretariat. Since its establishment, the QEF has provided funds for about 8 700 projects, granting about $4,100 million in total.

     My reply to the various parts of Hon Ip Kin-yuen's question is as follows:

(1) The QEF Secretariat, set up under the Education Bureau (EDB) is tasked with the overall management for the QEF. It provides secretariat support to the Steering Committee and carries out functions such as processing applications, monitoring projects and disseminating good practices and experience of projects. Currently, the QEF Secretariat has 25 civil service staff and five non-civil service contract staff members. As the staff cost of the QEF Secretariat is provided by and subsumed in the overall expenditure of the EDB, a separate breakdown on the expenditure incurred in this respect is not available.

(2) All applicants are required to submit a proposal and a completed e-application form through the Electronic Project Management System at the QEF website ( Applicants seeking a grant exceeding $150,000 are required to submit a summary of the proposed project in one page of A4 size and provide details of the proposed project in no more than 15 pages of A4 size. Those seeking a grant not exceeding $150,000 are required to provide details of the proposed project in no more than 6 pages of A4 size. Since the maximum number of pages of a proposal has been specified in the application guidelines, we have not kept track of the length of submissions.

     All applications are assessed by the Assessment and Monitoring Sub-committee of the QEF. Normally, applications for a grant exceeding $600,000 are processed within six months and those not exceeding $600,000 within three months.

     The QEF simplified the application procedures for grants not exceeding $150,000 in March 2014. The move is well-received and the total number of applications received has increased significantly. Hence, more time is needed for processing the applications. We have posted the arrangement on the QEF website and informed applicants concerned.

(3) A breakdown of projects funded by the QEF by project duration in each of the past five years is set out at Annex 2.

(4) The QEF provides grants to fund projects that aim to raise the quality of school education and to promote quality school education in Hong Kong. It encourages projects that support innovation and/or new development. Such projects could cover new ideas or practices (including enhancement/adaptation of existing initiatives) which serve to supplement and/or complement the existing practices that would facilitate the development of schools to address the needs specific to their own contexts. This also covers projects which could build on and further expand the new ideas or practices that have been generated from projects previously funded by the QEF. Details of the projects approved by the QEF are available at the QEF Cyber Resource Centre (

(5) The EDB provides aided schools with the recurrent Operating Expenses Block Grant/Expanded Operating Expenses Block Grant. Schools may exercise flexibility in the use of such resources to meet the needs of students as well as school development. The School Management Committees/Incorporated Management Committees may approve the deployment of the surplus of such grants to meet the related expenses for the purchase of above-standard equipment which they deem necessary upon careful consideration. Schools should ensure that government funding is used reasonably and cost-effectively to avoid extravagance.

     Expenditure set out in the QEF financial statements is not included in the recurrent expenditure on the field of education in the annual Budget.

(6) As at August 31, 2014, the balance of the QEF is $8,259 million, including the initial capital of $5,000 million from the Government when the QEF was established in 1998 and net gains from investment. The Director of Accounting Services is responsible for managing the investments of the QEF. The QEF's investment objective is to generate a reasonable growth in the value of the funds whilst producing recurrent income to meet regular funding requests in order to support the development of quality education in Hong Kong and to fund relevant activities. The QEF has been adopting a prudent strategy in diversifying its investment with due regard to risk management. The accumulated surplus recorded is mainly attributed to favourable investment returns.

(7) The EDB and the Steering Committee have been monitoring the performance of the QEF, and have assessed its effectiveness as well as contributions to education in Hong Kong in a timely manner by completing the Survey Report on Quality Education Fund, the Report on the Review of the Operations of the Quality Education Fund, and the Consultancy Study Reports on Evaluation Methodology and Dissemination in 2002 and commissioning the Quality Education Fund Impact Study in 2008 on the tenth Anniversary of the QEF. The relevant reports have been uploaded onto the QEF website (

(8) Established in 1998, the QEF was committed to promoting school-based innovation and facilitating collaboration among tertiary institutions, non-governmental organisations, parents and school sponsoring bodies to enhance the quality of school education. Determined to enhance the quality of school education, the QEF has set the following directions: (1) to continue to align with the Government¡¦s education policies, such as strengthening the learning motivation and knowledge of our students in science, technology, mathematics, and Chinese history and culture, nurturing positive values in students, and supporting information technology in education and life planning education; (2) to continue to support school-based innovation and also the adaptation/enhancement of existing practices in schools so as to address their specific needs; (3) to promote research and development projects as a means of fostering more evidence-based practices and consolidating experiences; and (4) to strengthen the support measures for specific student groups, including non-Chinese speaking students and students of less favourable socio-economic status.

     The QEF will continue to enhance communication with stakeholders and encourage different sectors to form partnership with schools to carry out and to share the successful experience of the QEF projects. For instance, there are Thematic Networks for the continuous development and capacity building of teachers. The deliverables of the QEF projects, such as learning and teaching resources, are available through direct sale at designated bookstores and via mail order or on-line purchase at the websites of the QEF and Hong Kong Education City.

     To capitalise on e-Learning, the QEF has developed several sets of electronic deliverables to facilitate self-directed learning. The public can access these deliverables via the QEF Cyber Resource Centre and Hong Kong Education City. The QEF will continue to identify good projects for developing more electronic deliverables with interactive functions to promote quality education.

Ends/Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Issued at HKT 14:28


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