Educators offering students an alternative study route to the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examinations have defended their programmes in the face of possible closure after the introduction of the new senior secondary structure. The Education and Manpower Bureau said this week that the need for the Yi Jin/Secondary Schools Collaboration project would be 'substantially reduced and . . . possibly made redundant' as career-oriented courses, renamed applied learning courses, would address the full range of student abilities and interests under the 3+3+4 structure in 2009. The collaboration project, offered jointly by secondary schools and member institutions of the Federation for Continuing Education in Tertiary Institutions, is available in about 20 schools and allows Form Four students who do not wish to sit the HKCEE to gain an equivalent qualification. The programme is similar to Project Yi Jin, which provides Form Five students who have failed the HKCEE an opportunity to achieve a qualification comparable with five HKCEE passes. But Leung Yam-shing, education adviser to the Vocational Training Council, who oversees Yi Jin courses, said that while he understood secondary schools might not be able to offer a wide range of courses at the same time, it was important to note the differences between the Yi Jin/Secondary Schools Collaboration project and career-oriented courses. 'The learning environment is different. Students who are part of the collaboration project have to study in a tertiary setting and are able to make use of the facilities and support available,' he said. Mr Leung added that a committee was reviewing the role of Project Yi Jin under the new academic structure. One possibility was to switch to offering courses leading to qualification for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination, which would replace the HKCEE and A-Levels. Calvin Wan Kar-ho, Yi Jin programme manager at the Lingnan Institute of Further Education, said he believed Yi Jin would have a role to play after 2009 because some students might still want to gain the HKCEE qualification.