Hong Kong Jockey Club

Hong Kong Jockey Club donates HK$500m for city's youth

Five-year programme aims to help young people plan their futures, with 50 schools to benefit along with funded community teams

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 January, 2015, 3:14am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 January, 2015, 3:14am

The Hong Kong Jockey Club will donate HK$500 million to fund a five-year programme that will help 200,000 young people plan their futures, it announced at a celebration of its 130th anniversary yesterday.

The career-planning scheme was announced ahead of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's policy address on Wednesday, which is likely to feature more measures to help the young. Youth matters are high on the government's agenda after last year's Occupy Central blockades.

At a youth forum yesterday morning, Leung urged young Hongkongers to travel outside the city more - including to the mainland and Taiwan - to broaden their minds.

Jockey Club chairman Simon Ip Sik-on announced the youth scheme at yesterday's Sha Tin race meeting. "We feel that as our society changes, we should refocus our attention on changing community needs and we should respond accordingly," he said.

"The project will help [young people] discover their interests and abilities and educate them on life and career choices."

Educators welcomed the support of one of the world's biggest charity donors. But one lawmaker questioned whether focusing resources on young people's material needs would bear fruit, given that democracy was their real wish.

The programme, expected to start in September, will involve helping 50 schools with matters such as teacher training, career counselling, curriculum design and education for parents. The beneficiaries will include 10 schools for children with special educational needs.

The scheme will also create five district-based community service teams. Run by non-governmental organisations, they will offer career and life planning help for young people who are not in school, including dropouts, jobless youth and the so-called "hidden youth" - those who isolate themselves from friends, family and society.

More than 200,000 people aged 15 to 21 are expected to benefit over the five years. More details will be announced in April.

Dr Yip Wai-ming, principal of St Louis School in Sai Ying Pun, welcomed the scheme. He said pupils had to discover what interested them as early as possible so they could set themselves on a pathway to a meaningful career.

But career and life planning were still poorly understood by many teachers, and they needed training and direction to put the concepts into practice.

Strengthening life planning was a theme of last year's policy address, with schools now each receiving HK$500,000 per year for the purpose.

Civic Party lawmaker Dr Kenneth Chan Ka-lok said polls had shown that governance and democracy were young people's main concerns, while the government and charities focused on material concerns.

"The government is only talking about young people rather than letting young people talk," Chan said.

Meanwhile, Leung narrowly avoided being hit by a thrown egg when he was guest of honour at yesterday's race meeting.

Two men were taken away by police. One, who was allegedly carrying 40 eggs, was arrested for assault, disorderly conduct and possessing tools for illegal use. The other man, who held up an iPad with a yellow umbrella on the screen, was released.