A judging committee will be set up to ensure that top pupils awarded a new scholarship for studying at renowned overseas universities will return after graduation, the education minister said yesterday.
The scholarship, announced in the policy address, will award up to 100 secondary school graduates each year a maximum of HK$250,000. Another means-tested grant of up to HK$200,000 a year will be added for those in financial difficulties.
Concerns were raised as soon as the measure was announced on Wednesday that public money would be wasted if the recipients never returned.
"We definitely want them back," Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim said, calling the scholarship "Hong Kong-centric".
"Whoever is interested will need to convince [the committee] that he or she will eventually be able to come back, serve and contribute to Hong Kong."
Ng said that the scheme would be effective until the 2018-19 school year, when the government would review its effectiveness and decide whether it should continue.
Questions about the scheme were among several that lingered after Chief Executive Leung Chung-ying announced proposals covering education, including more funding, scholarships, subsidies, tertiary places and equal education opportunities.
Despite Leung's promise that the city's first Chinese-as-a-second-language curriculum would begin in the new school year that starts in September, an advocacy group for ethnic minorities said the plan was so vague it wondered if it would differ from the present framework.
"It seems the policy address reflects the will of the most senior government officials rather than the genuine commitment and will of the Education Bureau," Unison acting executive director Holing Yip Ho-ling said.
"The measures mentioned don't seem to depart much from the bureau's current practices."
Deputy Secretary for Education Michelle Li Mei-sheung said the framework would give ethnic minority pupils four options: a curriculum for those participating in the Diploma of Secondary Education exams (DSE); an applied Chinese language subject under the DSE with recognised qualifications to be implemented early next year; a vocational Chinese training programme; and other, international Chinese language qualifications.