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Free kindergarten plans unveiled by CE in Policy Address

     The Chief Executive, in his 2016 Policy Address today (January 13), has unveiled plans to implement a free, quality kindergarten-education policy from the 2017/18 school year.

     The new policy's main points are:

* Provide eligible, local non-profit-making kindergartens with a basic subsidy to offer a three-year, quality half-day service for all eligible children. It is estimated that 70 to 80 per cent of the places in half-day kindergartens will become free places. The Government will also provide an additional subsidy for eligible whole-day and long whole-day kindergartens, and revise the planning standards to progressively offer more whole-day places;

* Improve the teacher-pupil ratio to 1:11 to strengthen support for students with diverse needs, and encourage kindergartens to establish a career ladder, providing competitive remuneration for teachers to attract and retain quality teaching staff;

* Review the Guide to the Pre-primary Curriculum;

* Refine the Quality Assurance Framework, enhancing the governance and transparency of kindergartens and stepping up the Government's monitoring efforts;

* Strengthen support for students from needy families, non-Chinese-speaking students and students with diverse learning needs;

* Enhance parental engagement and education; and

* Improve school premises and facilities and explore measures to increase kindergarten premises in the long run.

     Mr Leung said that before implementing the new policy, he would invite the Community Care Fund to consider providing a one-off grant for kindergarten students from needy families in the 2016/17 school year. The grant would cover their school-related expenses.

     To enhance implementation of the senior secondary curriculum, the Government plans to turn the existing Senior Secondary Curriculum Support Grant and the Career and Life Planning Grant into regular teaching posts in the 2016/17 school year. It is expected that about 1,000 additional teaching posts would be provided at the Graduate Master/Mistress rank.

     To cultivate talent, the Government will set up an $800 million Gifted Education Fund. It will support the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education's work in nurturing exceptionally gifted students between 10 and 18 years of age.

     Mr Leung said the Government had accepted all the recommendations of the Task Force on Promotion of Vocational Education and will consider how to implement them.

     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.

     Mr Leung said the Youth Development Fund, to be launched after Legislative Council approval, would support non-governmental organisations on a matching basis to assist young people to start their own business.

     The Chief Executive said the Government would increase the quotas of the Funding Scheme for Youth Internship in the Mainland.

     He said the Police would adopt a host of measures to enhance the Junior Police Call and youth work. This would include setting up a Junior Police Call Permanent Activity Centre and Integrated Youth Training Camp at Pat Heung.

     The centre, expected to start operation next year, will provide services for Junior Police Call members, students, youth organisations, ethnic minorities and Senior Police Call members.

Ends/Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Issued at HKT 14:11


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