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Frequently Asked Questions of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Life-wide Learning Fund

Section A: General Introduction

Question 1: My school has never organised activities titled “Life-wide Learning” (LWL) before. Should schools specifically organise such activities before they are entitled to apply for and use the “Hong Kong Jockey Club Life-wide Learning Fund” (the Fund)?

Question 2: Through what channels can teachers obtain more information about LWL activities?


Section B: Criteria for Fund Allocations to Schools

Question 3: Under what conditions can schools use the Fund?

Question 4: On what basis is the Fund allocated to each participating school? And how should schools allocate the Fund to students?


Section C: Scope of Aids to students

Question 5: What are the school-based criteria for determining a “financially needy” student?

Question 6: How can schools know about which students are receiving the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) and which students are receiving full grant under the School Textbook Assistance Scheme (STAS-Full)?

Question 7: What LWL activities can be subsidised by the Fund? What expenses can be covered?

Question 8: Can schools use the Fund to offset all costs that should be charged to students for joining LWL activities?

Question 9: Should an equal amount be allocated to each eligible student?

Question 10: Is there any ceiling on the number of LWL activities subsidised by schools? Is there any upper limit on the subsidy?

Question 11: Can schools use the Fund to buy items that eligible students use or activity uniforms that eligible students wear when participating in LWL activities? Can schools use the Fund to buy gifts or prizes?

Question 12: Can the Fund be used to pay the expenditure incurred by the teacher who leads eligible students during a LWL activity?

Question 13: How should schools handle activities involving expenses on food and beverages?

Question 14: Can the Fund be used to subsidise students joining LWL activities outside Hong Kong?


Section D: Fund Administration and Management

Question 15: How is the allocation released to schools?

Question 16: Should schools use the Fund to aid LWL activities only after the Fund has reached schools?

Question 17: Are schools required to submit reports with details of LWL activities and expenditure minutiae?

Question 18: What are the accounting procedures for the Fund? Should schools submit the receipts of the LWL activity expenses to the EDB?

Question 19: Would additional funds be allocated if the schools have over-spent on LWL activities?

Question 20: If the school has not spent the entire amount of the allocated Fund by the end of the school year, can the school keep the left-over and spend it in the following year? 
 


 

Section A: General Introduction

Question 1: My school has never organised activities titled “Life-wide Learning” (LWL) before. Should schools specifically organise such activities before they are entitled to apply for and use the “Hong Kong Jockey Club Life-wide Learning Fund” (the Fund)?

Answer 1: LWL activities are not new learning strategies. Many co-curricular activities, extra-curricular activities or activities outside school hours or beyond the classrooms which have been organised or recognised by schools before, such as

* interest classes and group activities,
* art appreciation and concerts,
* visits to museums and cultural heritage trails,
* participation in career-related activities, and
* community services, etc.

are common LWL activities organised or recognised by schools.

The Fund aims at promoting and supporting financially needy students to participate in more diversified learning outside the classrooms. In general, schools need not specifically organise LWL activities in order to be eligible to apply for and use the Fund. However, teachers are encouraged to explore new learning activities so as to foster students’ whole-person development.

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Question 2: Through what channels can teachers obtain more information about LWL activities?

Answer 2: Teachers can refer to the following websites for more information about LWL activities as reference for arranging such activities for students.

* Life-wide Learning website
* Basic Education Curriculum Guide - Building on Strengths (Primary 1 - Secondary 3) (2002) Booklet 6: Life-wide Learning – Enriching Learning through Authentic Experiences

* Basic Education Curriculum Guide - To Sustain, Deepen and Focus on Learning to Learn (Primary 1 - Primary 6) (2014) Booklet 6: Life-wide Learning
* Life-wide Learning Activity Databank

Teachers are encouraged to visit the above websites regularly to keep abreast of the latest development of LWL.

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Section B: Criteria for Fund Allocations to Schools

Question 3: Under what conditions can schools use the Fund?

Answer 3: The Fund is to help students at all levels in primary and secondary schools (except English Schools Foundation (ESF) and international schools). Yet, school heads have to apply for the Fund on behalf of their financially needy students through responding to the relevant Education Bureau (EDB) Circular Memorandum (CM).

Schools can use the Fund to aid financially needy students to participate in LWL activities organised or recognised by schools. These financially needy students are P1 to S6 students who are receiving the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA), or who are receiving full grant under the School Textbook Assistance Scheme (STAS-Full), or who have fulfilled the school’s established ‘financially needy’ criteria.

When planning and implementing learning activities tied in with the school’s curriculum, schools are encouraged to flexibly deploy existing available financial resources in order to enable students to acquire various learning experiences in and out of lesson time. In this connection, we expect schools to make their best effort to fully utilise the Fund allocated to them so as to benefit as many financially needy students as possible. Schools can also use the allocated Fund to complement other financial resources to further subsidise students to participate in activities..

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Question 4: On what basis is the Fund allocated to each participating school? And how should schools allocate the Fund to students?

Answer 4: All along, as mutually agreed with the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the calculation of the Fund allocated to each school is made reference to the number of students receiving CSSA and the number of students receiving full grant of STAS in the school.

The Social Welfare Department and the Student Finance Office of the Working Family and Student Financial Assistance Agency respectively forward the number of students receiving CSSA and STAS of each school to the EDB on a regular basis. Based on the latest information available (usually in June), the EDB estimates the number of eligible students in each school to allocate the Fund for the coming school year.

Since 2015/16 school year, the calculation of fund is as follows:
each junior primary student (P1 to P3): $180
each senior primary student (P4 to P6): $300
each junior secondary student (S1 to S3): $315
each senior secondary student (S4 to S6): $525

The above amounts, $180/$300/$315/$525, only serve as the calculation basis for the allocations to schools but not the prescribed amounts to be allocated to each student. However, schools may make reference to these amounts when allocating the funds.

Schools should manage the fund on behalf of the eligible students and, according to the contexts of individual schools, exercise professional judgement to decide on which LWL activities and what amount to be subsidised. Yet, schools are strongly advised to observe the three major principles, i.e. transparency, fairness and reasonableness when distributing the Fund.

Schools can exercise their own discretion to use the Fund to pay partly or fully the relevant expenses incurred in order to maximise the effectiveness of the Fund. However, schools should ensure students’ attendance in the LWL activities concerned when subsidising the students with the Fund.

Schools can also refer to Section C: Scope of Aids to students for other details.

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Section C: Scope of Aids to students

Question 5: What are the school-based criteria for determining a “financially needy” student?

Answer 5: Since students’ family backgrounds vary with schools, schools can appropriately establish their own criteria for determining a “financially needy” student. In general, schools would consider whether the student is the recipient of the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) or the recipient under the full grant of School Textbook Assistance Scheme (STAS-Full). Other than these categories, schools can consider those students receiving STAS half grant, having low family income or recommended by their teacher/social worker who is familiar with their family backgrounds etc.as the eligibility criteria.

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Question 6: How can schools know about which students are receiving the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) and which students are receiving full grant under the School Textbook Assistance Scheme (STAS-Full)?

Answer 6: In general, the Student Finance Office of the Working Family and Student Financial Assistance Agency forwards the data of the number of students receiving full grant under the STAS to schools on a regular basis. In view of the diverse school structures, backgrounds and cultures, schools are advised to devise their own mechanisms to identify students who are the recipients of the CSSA so as to strengthen the effectiveness of the Fund. Details of school experiences are listed in the “School Practices” section of the Fund’s webpage for schools’ reference. 

 

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Question 7: What LWL activities can be subsidised by the Fund? What expenses can be covered?

Answer 7: The Fund is not a direct subsidy to school activities. It is in fact an aid to enable the financially needy students to have equal access to LWL activities. Schools are encouraged to organise their LWL activities as usual so that the financially needy students are then enabled to take part in the activities with the aid of the Fund. In other words, schools need not specifically use the Fund to organise LWL activities targeting those financially needy students.

The Fund is to aid financially needy students to participate in LWL activities organised / recognised by schools so as to promote and support more diversified learning outside the classroom. Thus expenses of activities which do not contribute to achieving the aims of LWL, such as tuition fee, examination fee, newspaper subscription, magazine purchase, subscription to online learning programmes, etc., should not be covered by the subsidy.

As mentioned above, schools can make use of the Fund to subsidise those activities recognised by schools. In general, recognised activities are those activities that are organised by external organisations and schools know about and recognise the contents and the effectiveness of these activities. Schools also approve of their students participating in these activities so as to achieve the aims of LWL.

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Question 8: Can schools use the Fund to offset all costs that should be charged to students for joining LWL activities?

Answer 8: As long as the principles of the use of the Fund are observed, schools can exercise their professional judgement to use the Fund to offset the costs of LWL activities that should be charged to the eligible students. Varied school contexts will understandably lead to different management of the Fund. Schools should cater for the diverse needs of students with reference to their individual contexts and define the scopes of support appropriately so as to tie in the subsidy with the schools’ curriculum. For instance, schools may use the Fund to fully subsidise students in need for covering basic costs such as transport fees and entrance fees of visits etc. For the relatively higher expenses such as purchasing musical instruments and overseas visits etc, schools may consider defining the criteria of “partial but not full subsidy” so as to nurture students’ sense of responsibility and commitment.

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Question 9: Should an equal amount be allocated to each eligible student?

Answer 9: As a matter of fact, not all students will participate in every single activity organised by the school, and the amount of subsidies to different activities may also vary. As such, eligible students do not necessarily receive the same amount of subsidy throughout the school year.  In the best interest of students, schools should, when defining subsidising criteria and allocating subsidies to students, ensure the allocations are in line with the three major principles, i.e. transparency, fairness and reasonableness.

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Question 10: Is there any ceiling on the number of LWL activities subsidised by schools? Is there any upper limit on the subsidy?

Answer 10: Schools can determine the number of LWL activities to be subsidised as well as the amount of subsidy to each eligible student. However, schools should maintain a balanced budget and observe the principles of transparency, fairness and reasonableness. We expect schools should make their best effort to fully utilise the Fund allocated to them so as to benefit as many financially needy students as possible.

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Question 11: Can schools use the Fund to buy items that eligible students use or activity uniforms that eligible students wear when participating in LWL activities? Can schools use the Fund to buy gifts or prizes?

Answer 11: Yes, but the items / activity uniforms are owned by the eligible students concerned, i.e. not by schools. The items should be bought with the intention to support students, particularly their learning process. Schools are strongly encouraged to set their own criteria as early as possible to ensure all eligible students have access to the basic support. Schools may also refer to question 8 for details of setting criteria.

Using the Fund (or any unspent amount) to buy items simply as gifts or prizes for students without any connection between the purposes and learning does not comply with the principles of the use of the Fund and is therefore not allowable. In other words, the Fund should be used to support student learning; the Fund is thus different from those common award schemes which aim at recognising students for their outstanding performances, or use materialistic rewards to extrinsically motivate students to achieve further etc.

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Question 12: Can the Fund be used to pay the expenditure incurred by the teacher who leads eligible students during a LWL activity?

Answer 12: The Fund aims at supporting eligible financially needy students to participate in LWL activities and such students should be the Fund’s prime beneficiary group. Schools can utilise various existing financial resources to cover such costs. For example, some government-subvented Mainland exchange programmes have already subsidised partially the average total head cost. Therefore, the teacher's expenditure can only be subsidised by the Fund under exceptional circumstances, for instance, if the school cannot support the personnel with other sources. Yet, the schools concerned should exercise their professional judgement in this regard to establish a school-based ceiling on the subsidy to teachers, for example, schools can make reference to the teacher-to-student ratio as prescribed in the “Guidelines on Outdoor Activities”.

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Question 13: How should schools handle activities involving expenses on food and beverages?

Answer 13: It depends on the nature of the activities. If the activities are mere catering or celebrations without learning purposes, these activities should by no means be considered as LWL activities and the expenses should not be subsidised with the Fund. However, the expenses incurred can be claimed if the food and beverages are unavoidable or appropriate to the context of the activities (e.g. meals in a day camp*). Hence, "necessity", “reasonableness” and "appropriateness" should be the main considerations when determining if such costs should be subsidised by the Fund.

* Under the CSSA scheme, all whole-day school students who need to have lunch outside are already supported by appropriate subsidies. As such, schools in the course of organising LWL activities for these students should avoid providing overlapping meal subsidies as far as possible.

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Question 14: Can the Fund be used to subsidise students joining LWL activities outside Hong Kong?

Answer 14: Starting from September 2007, schools can use the Fund to subsidise learning activities carried out in Hong Kong, on the mainland or overseas. Therefore, student exchange programmes and overseas study visits, etc. are activities within the scope of support.

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Section D: Fund Administration and Management

Question 15: How is the allocation released to schools?

Answer 15: Upon the receipt of the grant from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the Life-wide Learning and Library Section of the EDB will inform schools of their allocations. After that, the Finance Division of the EDB will release the annual amount to schools in one installment.

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Question 16: Should schools use the Fund to aid LWL activities only after the Fund has reached schools?

Answer 16: The Fund in general will reach schools after October. Schools may need to pay the fees in advance on the behalf of the eligible students. Schools may then recover the payments when the allocation has reached their accounts.

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Question 17: Are schools required to submit reports with details of LWL activities and expenditure minutiae?

Answer 17: By the end of the school year, schools are only required to complete a simple annual activity and financial report on the activities organised (activity names), the number of beneficiary students at each level and the fund balance. The completed report should be returned to the Life-wide Learning and Library Section, the EDB for checking by mid-September.

In order to monitor and improve the operation of the Fund, some participating schools will be randomly selected to submit a more detailed questionnaire. The EDB will directly inform the selected schools of the details in letters.

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Question 18: What are the accounting procedures for the Fund? Should schools submit the receipts of the LWL activity expenses to the EDB?

Answer 18: The accounting procedures and book keeping of the Fund should be in line with the school-based financial management practices and audit requirements. In general, simple but easy-to-read ledgers of all in-and-out transactions should be orderly kept.

Schools may be requested to submit LWL activity expenses receipts if they are invited to submit the mid-year review / reports to the Life-wide Learning and Library Section. Under general circumstances, schools need not submit LWL activity expenses receipts of any kind. Yet, schools are required to keep all records of transactions to comply with the relevant internal bookkeeping and external audit requirements.

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Question 19: Would additional funds be allocated if the schools have over-spent on LWL activities?

Answer 19: The annual amounts allocated to schools are one-off in nature for subsidising eligible students to participate in activities held throughout the school year. Therefore, schools are advised to maintain a balanced budget. In other words, there are no additional allocations to help schools cover the amount over-spent. Moreover, the over-spending cannot be covered by the allocation of the following year and the deficit should be covered by schools’ other financial sources. Nevertheless, we expect schools should make their best effort to fully utilise the Fund allocated to them so as to benefit as many financially needy students as possible.

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Question 20: If the school has not spent the entire amount of the allocated Fund by the end of the school year, can the school keep the left-over and spend it in the following year?

Answer 20: With effect from 2007, accounts of the year should be completely settled and closed within the school year; that means the accounts of the current school year and those of the following year should be handled separately. Therefore, no unspent amounts should be carried forward to the following school year. After the end of the school year, all unspent amounts will be returned to the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust.

Schools are expected, through school-based strategies, to use all the funds allocated to them to subsidise financially needy students to participate in LWL activities within the school year. For example, schools are encouraged to deploy the remaining amount in subsidising eligible students to participate in summer activities and overseas study tours.

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Last revision date: 19 August 2016
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