Pleasure and growth in lifelong learning

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 October, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 October, 2004, 12:00am

No matter what you want, from a pottery class to a master's degree, further education provides the opportunities

MANY PEOPLE THINK continuing education requires getting a new degree or training to do something specific.

Both choices are useful, but continuing education does not have to involve either.

It can simply mean enrolling in any recreational course or further education programme offered to adults or school leavers.

Simon Wong Chi-hon, dean of Baptist University's School of Continuing Education, said continuous or lifelong learning was the process of acquiring and expanding knowledge and skills as part of planned career advancement and to foster well-being.

This can include taking a pottery class or enrolling in a structured, formal education programme.

Mr Wong said diversification of tasks and rapid changes meant that people must constantly upgrade themselves to cope with their increasingly complex duties.

They may also choose to do a short course or programme as a form of relaxation or to learn new skills.

'Lifelong learners choose to seek new ideas and alternative perspectives. They embrace our changing, dynamic, information-rich society by keeping their senses active and their minds full of ideas,' Mr Wong said.

Surveys show about 25 per cent of Form Seven graduates are involved in some kind of continuous learning.

'Hong Kong people are focused and career-driven, and understand that obtaining additional training or education is important for them to be successful in their work.'

To boost the concept of continuous learning in 2002, the government introduced a $5 billion Continuing Education Fund (CEF).

Those aged 18 to 60 can claim up to $10,000 or 80 per cent of the course fees of specified programmes on successful completion of the course.

Most courses eligible for reimbursement fall in the categories of business services, creative industries, design, financial services, language, logistics, tourism, and interpersonal and workplace skills.

The scheme also covers several Open University of Hong Kong courses.

Mr Wong said there had been a rise in the number of students who had enrolled in the programmes selected for CEF reimbursement.

The annual enrolment for part-time evening courses with the School of Continuing Education is more than 50,000, among which 10,000 are enrolled in programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Baptist University has offered part-time degrees since 1985, and also provides various off-campus degree programmes collaboratively with overseas institutions. More than 500 part-time evening subjects are planned for each of the three terms of the year.

Some short courses are grouped into various streams under diploma and certificate programmes.

All are designed around study modes which include lectures, tutorials, intensive seminars and group study.

Mr Wong said the objectives of the school were based on the saying that 'learning is a lifelong process'.

The school provides people of all ages with professional training and academic advancement to meet the needs of changing society. The school has also designed a comprehensive study ladder, which offers individuals the flexibility to plan for their studies at their own pace.

These include short courses, diploma and certificate programmes, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programmes and tailor-made courses for corporations and government.

'As an educator, I believe the most rewarding and exciting moment is to know that we have provided a nourishing environment for individuals at different stages of life to grow, to meet the challenge, and to reach their targets and ideals,' Mr Wong said.