Following is a question by Ir the Hon Ho Chung-tai and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Professor Arthur K C Li, in the Legislative Council today (March 19):
It has been reported that the Continuing Education Fund (CEF) has received a lukewarm response from the public since applications were invited. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the number of applicants seeking subsidies from CEF, and the education levels of these applicants;
(b) whether it has received requests for the relaxation of the eligibility criteria, to allow university degree holders to apply for subsidies from CEF; if it has, of the number of such requests, and whether it will accept such requests; and
(c) whether it plans to increase the courses the fees of which are reimbursable under CEF; if it has, of the details of the plans; if not, the reasons for that?
(a) As at 7 March 2003, a total of 25 347 applications have been received. Other than declaring that they do not possess any university degree at the time of application, applicants are not required to provide any information about their educational attainment. We thus do not have any record of the applicants' educational attainment.
(b) A total of 83 requests for allowing degree holders to apply for the Continuing Education Fund (CEF) have been received so far.
The primary objective of the CEF is to help Hong Kong's workforce prepare for the knowledge-based economy. When considering how to make the best use of the Fund, we believe that those who have not benefited from university education would be less adaptable to the new knowledge-based economy needed and thus have the greatest need for assistance. The existing eligibility criteria were laid down with this consideration in mind. We have no plan to relax them at this stage. We shall review the overall implementation arrangements, including the eligibility criteria and coverage of courses under the Scheme, in the latter half of this year.
(c) We have been accepting applications submitted by training providers to include their suitable courses into the list of reimbursable courses under the CEF and the number of courses on the list has been increasing. As stated in (b) above, we shall review the Scheme and examine if there is a need to extend the present coverage of courses under the CEF.
End/Wednesday, March 19, 2003