2016 Policy Address by Chief Executive (8)

VIII. Education and Youth Development

Youth Development

183. The Government attaches great importance to youth development and strives to provide ample and diverse chances for young people to pursue further studies and training, better equip themselves and broaden their horizons.  This will help them seize the opportunities brought by social and economic development and achieve upward mobility.

184. The Government has developed different platforms to provide development opportunities for young people with different aspirations.  In the past few years, the Government launched an array of new measures to support the diversified development of young people, such as the Multi-faceted Excellence Scholarship and the Funding Scheme for Youth Life Planning Activities, a substantial increase in recurrent subvention for youth uniformed groups, and additional resources to expand the Funding Scheme for Youth Exchange in the Mainland and the Funding Scheme for Youth Internship in the Mainland.  Moreover, the Government will continue to take forward the Youth Hostel Scheme, such that some young people may have their own living space.

185. The first batch of students awarded the Multi-faceted Excellence Scholarship was admitted to various tertiary institutions last September.  Following completion of the preparatory work, the Youth Development Fund will be launched after funding approval is given by this Council.  The fund will mainly help, on a matching basis, young people who want to start their own business.

186. The Government will continue to increase the quotas of the Funding Scheme for Youth Internship in the Mainland, and will work with NGOs and tertiary institutions to improve the scheme.

187. The Police will adopt a host of measures to enhance the Junior Police Call and youth work, including the setting up of a Junior Police Call Permanent Activity Centre and Integrated Youth Training Camp at Pat Heung.  The centre is expected to start operation next year and will provide services for Junior Police Call members, students, youth organisations, ethnic minorities and Senior Police Call members.  In addition, the Police plan to increase the number of school liaison officers.

Kindergarten Education

188. The Government has decided to implement a free quality kindergarten education policy from the 2017/18 school year to improve the quality of kindergarten education in various aspects through the following measures:

(i) Provide eligible local non-profit-making kindergartens with a basic subsidy for a three-year quality half-day service for all eligible children.  It is estimated that about 70% to 80% of the places in half-day kindergartens will become free-of-charge.  The estimate is based on a number of assumptions.  For instance, that kindergartens recruit teachers at the recommended teacher-pupil ratio of 1:11; that Government funding other than that used for paying teachers' salaries and provided as specific subvention is used in a flexible way; and that rental expenses of kindergartens remain stable at the current level.  The Government will also provide an additional subsidy for eligible whole-day and long whole-day kindergartens, and revise the planning standards to offer more whole-day places progressively;

(ii) Further improve the teacher-pupil ratio to 1:11 to strengthen support for students with diverse needs, and encourage kindergartens to establish a career ladder and provide competitive remuneration to attract and retain quality teaching staff;

(iii) Review the Guide to the Pre-primary Curriculum, taking into consideration the experience of learning and teaching in kindergartens and societal needs;

(iv) Refine the Quality Assurance Framework; enhance the governance and transparency of kindergartens; and step up the Government's monitoring efforts;

(v) Strengthen support for needy students, non-Chinese speaking students and students with diverse learning needs;

(vi) Enhance parent engagement and parent education; and

(vii) Improve school premises and facilities and explore feasible measures to increase kindergarten premises in the long run.

189. Before the new policy is implemented, I will invite the CCF to consider providing a one-off grant for kindergarten students from needy families in the 2016/17 school year to cover their school-related expenses.

Primary and Secondary Education

190. The Government will continue to provide financial support for public sector primary and secondary schools to set up Wi-Fi infrastructure in campuses and procure mobile computing devices.  Related works at half of the public sector schools in Hong Kong have been completed.

191. The New Academic Structure Medium-term Review at senior secondary level has been completed and the Government will actively promote life planning education.  To enhance the implementation of the senior secondary curriculum, and strengthen life planning education and related guidance services, schools may turn the existing Senior Secondary Curriculum Support Grant as well as Career and Life Planning Grant into regular teaching posts from the 2016/17 school year.  This will provide about 1 000 additional teaching posts at the Graduate Master/Mistress rank.  We will review the implementation of the measures in schools in the next two school years.

192. To address the temporary decline in the number of secondary school students, the Government has introduced a basket of targeted relief measures to help stabilise the teaching force.  The measures aim at maintaining the stability and strength of schools as well as the teaching force during this transitional period.  To stabilise secondary school development before a gradual rebound of the student population, the Government will continue to provide relief measures, such as allowing schools to extend the retention period of surplus teachers arising from fewer secondary one classes from one year to three years.  To further stabilise the teaching force, aided secondary schools in need may apply to extend the retention period for these surplus teachers up to the 2017/18 school year.  Around 130 teachers in 30 schools will be involved.

193. To cultivate more talent, the Government proposes to set up an $800 million Gifted Education Fund for supporting the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education's work in nurturing exceptionally gifted students aged between 10 and 18.  Meanwhile, the Education Bureau will continue to implement school-based gifted education programmes, which include training for principals and teachers in primary and secondary schools, and establishment of school networks for practices and experience sharing.

194. The Government will further enhance the School-based Educational Psychology Service by progressively improving the ratio of educational psychologist to school to 1:4 for public sector primary and secondary schools with a large number of students with such needs.

Vocational and Post-secondary Education

195. The Education Bureau will advance its review of ways to extend the scope of the subsidy of the Mainland University Study Subsidy Scheme, with a view to assisting more students with financial needs to pursue further studies in the Mainland.

196. As pointed out in my previous two Policy Addresses, young people can develop their interests and realise their potential through vocational education.  The Government has accepted all the recommendations of the Task Force on Promotion of Vocational Education and will actively consider how to implement them.  The recommendations include fully subsidising Applied Learning courses by secondary schools, extending the Pilot Training and Support Scheme to benefit two more cohorts of 2 000 students in total, and supporting major vocational and professional education and training providers to organise large-scale skills competitions to select representatives of Hong Kong to take part in world skills competitions.

197. The Government will earmark a site in the urban district to develop a Vocational Training Council campus with adequate capacity and state-of-the-art facilities.

(To be continued)

Ends/Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Issued at HKT 12:52