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Boost for education and sports in 2017 Policy Address
     The Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, today (January 18) announced in the 2017 Policy Address a series of education initiatives covering kindergarten to university.

     With the free quality kindergarten education policy implemented from the next school year, the Government's recurrent expenditure on kindergarten education will increase by about $2.7 billion. Up to 80 per cent of subsidised half-day kindergarten places will be free of charge.

     To help eligible kindergartens adjust to the new policy, the Government will provide a one-off grant in the 2016/17 school year.

     To boost the development of innovation and technology in Hong Kong, the Chief Executive said a one-off subsidy of $200,000 will be offered to each public sector secondary school to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. This follows the provision, early last year, of additional resources to help primary schools implement school-based programmes related to STEM education.

     As regards language education, the Government will implement two programmes - a grant for primary schools to enrich the campus language environment and refine the school-based English-language curriculum, and a vocational English programme for senior secondary students who are interested in pursuing vocational and professional education and training or are prepared to work.

     The Government will regularise the Study Subsidy Scheme for Designated Professions/Sectors from the 2018/19 academic year. It will subsidise students to undertake designated self-financing undergraduate programmes, with the number of subsidised places increasing to 3,000 from about 1,000 per cohort.

     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.

     To help self-financing post-secondary institutions tap more funding sources, the Government will launch the seventh Matching Grant Scheme with grants up to $500 million for application by qualified local self-financing degree-awarding institutions.

     In the 2017/18 academic year, the Hong Kong Scholarship for Excellence Scheme will continue to support up to 100 outstanding local students in their studies at major universities outside Hong Kong.

     A site for the development of a state-of-the-art Vocational Training Council campus has been identified in Cha Kwo Ling, and planning is under way. The Government also supports the construction of an Aviation and Marine Engineering Centre on a site of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education.

     In response to the final report released last November by the Committee on Prevention of Student Suicides, the Government has launched the Student Mental Health Support Scheme this school year on a pilot basis. Multi-disciplinary professional teams are assisting schools to support students with mental health needs.

     To help secondary-school teachers broaden their perspectives and enrich their experience, the Government will introduce a paid non-local study-leave scheme on a pilot basis. The three-year plan is expected to benefit some 150 teachers.

     A one-off grant of $125 million will also be allocated to support the professional development of teachers in promoting Chinese history and traditional Chinese culture.

     Meanwhile, the Chief Executive outlined measures to boost sports development at the community and elite levels.

     Mr Leung said the Government would spend $20 billion over the next five years to launch 26 projects to develop new sports and recreation facilities or improve existing ones.

     Projects include two sports grounds, nine football pitches, one sports centre, four swimming pool complexes, two lawn bowling greens, one cycling ground, four tennis courts, 11 outdoor basketball courts and 20 open spaces, amounting to a total of 54 facilities.

     Technical feasibility studies will be conducted on another 15 sports and recreation facilities while the pre-construction works for Kai Tak Sports Park, the largest sports project to be built in Hong Kong, are close to completion.

     The Government proposes to use Wan Chai Sports Ground for comprehensive development in 2019 at the earliest. Apart from convention and exhibition venues, the development will comprise recreation, sports and community facilities for the district.

     At the elite level, the Government will inject $1 billion into the Elite Athletes Development Fund to enhance the Hong Kong Sports Institute's efforts in nurturing elite athletes.
Ends/Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Issued at HKT 13:47
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