AN ALL-ROUND development programme especially designed for junior secondary school students will be launched next year with funding of $400 million from the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC). The three-year project, PATHS to Adulthood, is a joint effort involving the HKJC, the Education and Manpower Bureau, the Social Welfare Department and five tertiary institutions. The programme aims to promote positive values among young people and boost their self-confidence. The participants will learn about the importance of taking on responsibility and tackling challenges that they may have to face soon. Led by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), a research team made up of experts from the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, City University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Baptist University have been designing courses based on successful youth development projects in the United States. 'Nowadays, our youths face many problems. Our purpose is to prepare them for these problems,' said programme leader and CUHK professor Daniel Shek Tan-lei. 'We want to nurture teenagers by enhancing their character, confidence, competence, compassion and desire to contribute.' Sixty schools will volunteer to take part in the programme from January to August next year. It will be fully implemented in the 2006-07 academic year. 'The programme will be divided into two stages. The first stage is a universal positive youth development programme in which Form One to Three students will attend 20 hours of training courses, either during normal school hours or after school,' said Professor Shek. 'The second stage is a selective programme for about one fifth of the students who need extra psycho-social help. Their parents are also welcome to join. 'Teachers and school social workers will be given training to implement the programme.' William Yiu Yan-pui, HKJC executive director (charities), said each participating school would be given $100,000 to $150,000 to run the programme for the first year. More funds will be granted in the next two years. Extra financial help will be available for hiring substitute teachers or providing training for teachers and social workers.