Lawmakers this week criticised the government's 'inflexibility' in refusing to make evening school classes free for adult learners despite appeals from across the political divide.
Members of the Legislative Council's education panel gave their conditional support to the government's proposals to boost financial assistance for evening classes, increasing funding from 30 per cent of fees to 50 per cent and extending the provision to include junior secondary courses.
Lawmakers had thrown back the plan last month, demanding officials look into the feasibility of government meeting the whole cost of the courses to bring them into line with the policy of 12 years' free education.
However, deputy secretary for education Michael Wong Wai-lun said the government was not prepared to do so.
'It would have implications for primary and secondary school,' Mr Wong said. 'We have to make sure that the resources put in would be a good use of public funds.'
The Frontier's Emily Lau Wai-hing said the government should support people who were trying to better themselves.
'I don't know what you mean by a good use of public funds. This is certainly a good use of public funds,' Ms Lau said.
Yeung Sum, Democratic Party legislator and deputy chairman of the panel, said he had no choice but to accept the plans as they stood but added: 'It is my hope that evening adult education can eventually be provided for free.'
Dr Yeung said the city needed to provide workers with opportunities to improve their education to ensure Hong Kong remained competitive.
The plans will now go in front of the Finance Committee next month.