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Revamp might restore students' confidence in useful scheme

I refer to the report headlined 'Poor showing for Project Springboard scheme' (South China Morning Post, August 14).

According to the story, fewer than 100 applicants turned up on the first day of the further-education Project Springboard scheme. On August 21, the Post reported that 'fewer than half' the places had been filled.

By investing a huge amount of money, the Government has shown its commitment to the scheme, which helps pupils who performed poorly in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examinations. So why has the response this year been so disappointing? I think the answer lies with the pragmatic nature of Hong Kong people. The ultimate goal of most students in higher education in Hong Kong is to get the sort of academic results which improve their career prospects.

I have seldom heard anyone criticise the quality of the Project Springboard scheme. They are just concerned about the lack of recognition. Education is viewed as an investment in Hong Kong. Even though I do not see the learning process in that way, that is how it is perceived by most people in the SAR. Investors are concerned about the rate of return on their investment.

In this case, the 'investors', that is, the prospective students, want to know how the project's programmes can help them advance their career goals. It is up to the Government, therefore, to improve the way in which it promotes the scheme.

Officials say Project Springboard graduates have the same educational level as Form Five graduates with five passes.

Students have responded by saying this is not satisfactory. There has to be a revamp of the scheme so participants have a chance to graduate at a higher level than before.

It is important to try and get recognition for Project Springboard from the industrial and commercial sectors. One way of doing this would be to get employers from these sectors to help sponsor the scheme. Also, the Government could offer incentives to businesses willing to employ Project Springboard graduates.

Hong Kong is a typical commercial city. The administration must recognise that and be more market oriented - if it really believes this scheme can be part of its long-term educational strategy, rather than just a short-term way of bringing down the unemployment rate.


Kwai Chung