Rehab students 'from low-income families'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 August, 2009, 12:00am

The family income of 80 per cent of students at a drug rehabilitation college - where 90 per cent of the students have their fees paid by public assistance - is under HK$15,000, welfare chief Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said.

The other students at the Christian Zheng Sheng College had special circumstances justifying the payment of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, his department said.

'All cases at Zheng Sheng are dealt with according to existing CSSA criteria. And every case was assessed carefully,' said Mr Nip, who was meeting the media for the first time since becoming director of social welfare a week ago.

His remarks came a day after Nelson Chow Wing-sun, a professor with the University of Hong Kong's department of social work and social administration, asked why most of the college's 130 students had their school and boarding fees of about HK$11,000 a month paid with welfare money.

'I have looked into these cases and found that the family income of 80 per cent of these students is under HK$15,000 a month. They really would have difficulty paying the fee,' Mr Nip said.

A department spokesman said the remaining cases involved different situations, such as inadequate family support due to poor family relationships. However, he did not say how much these families earned.

Of the HK$11,000 welfare payment, about HK$3,000 was for housing and meals and HK$7,000 was for education, Mr Nip said.

'Zheng Sheng is a private school governed under the Education Ordinance. And we have to consider that these students live there, have their rehabilitation there, and they study there,' Mr Nip said.

The school's operation mode as a rehabilitation centre as well as a school was worth government study, he said.