Abode seekers offered tuition

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 December, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 December, 2001, 12:00am

The Catholic voluntary agency Caritas Hong Kong is providing adult educational services for mainlanders embroiled in right-of-abode lawsuits in the SAR.

More than 20 claimants have been taking computer and English courses at the Caritas Community Centre (Kowloon). Three University of Hong Kong students who help man the centre's counselling hotline for the abode seekers are behind the weekly English course. The social work trio are recruiting others to teach the 10-session course that began this week. It charges $10 per person.

Several schools this week offered places to the mainland children who are involved in the same legal battle, following an appeal by the coadjutor bishop of the Catholic Diocese Centre, Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kuin.

The desire for education is also strong among some adult claimants. One 19-year-old claimant is determined to sit next year's Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination. He is currently undertaking Form Five studies at a local school.

Principal of the Caritas Institute for Further and Adult Education (Kowloon), Dennis Wong, welcomes enrolment by the claimants. They could also attend - even if they could not afford the fees - without formally enrolling, he said.

A welfare worker at Caritas Community Centre (Kowloon), Sunny Leung Chun-wai, said the centre had dealt with 20 to 30 claimants above the age of 15 inquiring about courses.

'Studying appeals to them because they feel isolated in Hong Kong. They want to have some kind of pursuit and not waste their time,' he said. Some of the claimants had just finished senior secondary school or were half-way through university when they arrived, he added.

Principal of the YMCA College of Careers in Waterloo Road, Robert Au Tit-kwan, said enrollees in their diploma or short-term courses were local ID card holders, and usually with HKCEE results. But he said: 'We will see what to do if any right-of-abode seekers apply.'