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2017 Policy Address by Chief Executive (12)
X.  Education and Youth Development

Kindergarten Education

204. The Government will implement the free quality kindergarten education policy from the next school year.  Eligible local non-profit-making kindergartens will be provided with a direct subsidy for quality half-day education services.  The Government will also provide an additional grant for whole-day and long whole-day kindergartens, and a grant for kindergarten students from needy families to cover their school-related expenses.  To help eligible kindergartens implement the new policy, the Government will provide them with a one-off grant in the 2016/17 school year.  It is estimated that the Government's recurrent expenditure on kindergarten education will increase by around $2.7 billion, and approximately 70% to 80% of subsidised half-day kindergarten places will be free-of-charge.

205. The Government will invite the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR) to consider making use of the Language Fund to provide Chinese and English enhancement programmes for kindergarten teachers, including training on skills in teaching Chinese to non-Chinese speaking students.

Primary and Secondary Education

206. Last November, the Committee on Prevention of Student Suicides submitted its final report and put forward recommendations on preventing student suicides and improving the mental health of students.  The Government has launched the Student Mental Health Support Scheme on a pilot basis in the current school year to enhance communication and collaboration among healthcare, education and social welfare professionals.  Multi-disciplinary professional teams comprising psychiatrists, educational psychologists, school social workers, psychiatric nurses, clinical psychologists and occupational therapists are assisting schools in supporting students with mental health needs.  In addition, the Learning Support Grant for public sector ordinary primary and secondary schools will cover students with mental illness starting from the next school year.

207. The Government will introduce a paid non-local study leave scheme on a pilot basis for serving secondary school teachers to broaden their perspectives and enrich their experience by allowing them to take part in specific courses or on-site experiential learning attachment programmes for about one to three months.  The 3-year scheme is expected to benefit some 150 teachers.

208. As regards language education, the Government will invite SCOLAR to consider implementing the following two programmes:

(i) a grant for primary schools to enrich the language environment on campus and refine the school-based English Language curriculum.  The grant should enhance support for English learning in primary schools, in particular for the transition from kindergarten to junior primary, as well as to cater for both more able and less able students; and

(ii) a vocational English programme for senior secondary students who are interested in pursuing vocational and professional education and training or are prepared to work, so as to enhance their English proficiency and provide them with relevant recognition for further studies and employment.

209. There are currently about 900 public sector schools in Hong Kong.  The school premises were built in different periods and provide various facilities.  Having regard to the unique design feature, the Government will allocate additional resources to improve the facilities of 26 "matchbox-style school premises".

210. Last October, the Education Bureau (EDB) commenced consultation on revising the curriculum of the junior secondary Chinese History subject, recommending that Chinese history education be fine-tuned by attaching equal weight to the ancient and modern times, with both political and cultural dimensions incorporated into the curriculum, so that our students may have a comprehensive understanding of Chinese history.  To promote Chinese history and traditional Chinese culture, the EDB will strengthen teachers' professional development and provide a one-off grant of about $125 million to support teaching efforts in this respect.

211. The EDB will strengthen Basic Law education and further promote the Basic Law through continuously developing learning and teaching materials, organising relevant learning activities, providing teacher training and conducting exchange programmes with Mainland students and teachers.

212. The EDB strives to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.  Following the provision of additional resources for primary schools at the beginning of last year, the EDB is prepared to provide each public sector secondary school with an additional one-off subsidy of $200,000 to facilitate the implementation of school-based programmes related to STEM education.

Post-secondary Education

213. In order to nurture talent to meet our social and economic needs, the Government has decided to regularise the Study Subsidy Scheme for Designated Professions/Sectors from the 2018/19 academic year to subsidise students to undertake designated self-financing undergraduate programmes.  The number of subsidised places will be increased from about 1 000 per cohort to 3 000.  Current students of the designated programmes will also receive the subsidy from the 2018/19 academic year.  It is expected that about 13 000 students will benefit from the scheme each academic year.

214. To help self-financing post-secondary institutions tap more funding sources, the Government will launch the seventh Matching Grant Scheme, providing a maximum grant of $500 million for application by qualified local self-financing degree-awarding institutions.

215. The Hong Kong Scholarship for Excellence Scheme will continue to support up to 100 outstanding local students in their pursuit of studies in world renowned universities outside Hong Kong in the 2017/18 academic year.  While there is no restriction on the disciplines of study, priority will be given to programmes conducive to boosting Hong Kong's long-term competitiveness, in particular disciplines related to innovation and technology.

Vocational and Professional Education

216. The Government has identified a site in Cha Kwo Ling for development of a Vocational Training Council (VTC) campus with adequate capacity and state-of-the-art facilities.  Planning work is being carried out.  The Government also supports the VTC in principle to construct the Aviation and Marine Engineering Centre on the site of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (Tsing Yi).

Youth Development

217. In the past few years, the Government has invested significant resources to promote youth development.  For better delivery of youth development work, the Government will invite the Commission on Youth to put forward proposals on the future direction of youth development policy and strengthen co-ordination with various government departments in youth development.

(To be continued)
Ends/Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Issued at HKT 13:01
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