Bookworms have been rewarded with prizes for their contribution to the English Extensive Reading Scheme. Epson Foundation Reading Awards went to 45 students - from 257 schools - who achieved high scores in the Interschool Book Report Competition. Thirty-four of them had each read more than 100 books during the 1996-97 school year. The scheme is an Education Department initiative aimed at promoting reading among students and improving their English proficiency. Deputy Director of Education Kwan Ting-fai said what counted was not just how many books students had read, but their quality. 'Numbers aside, our English Extensive Reading Scheme also emphasises the integration of reading with other language skills,' he said. 'Students are often engaged in a wide variety of activities before, during and after reading.' Students' English standards are expected to improve 'tremendously' through taking part in the scheme because it gives them a much wider exposure to the language through literature. From September, Extensive Reading will be extended to all levels at primary and secondary schools - in line with recommendations in Education Commission Report No 6. The scheme was introduced to secondary schools in 1991 and extended to primary schools in the 1995-96 academic year. In 1996-97, more than 100,000 students from 173 secondary schools and 84 primary schools took part. Another 26 secondary schools will join in 1997-98, bringing the total to 199. Forty more primary schools will begin Extensive Reading in September.