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Hong Kong schools

Nearly 1,000 public primary and secondary schools can apply for up to HK$2 million each in funding under new Hong Kong scheme

New plan for an existing fund will see a simplified application system and halve processing time for grants

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 May, 2018, 8:01pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 May, 2018, 8:01pm

Close to 1,000 public primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong can get up to HK$2 million (US$250,000) in additional funding over the next four years to “fulfil their dreams”, a government-affiliated education fund announced on Friday.

Special needs schools can also apply for the same amount, while 748 kindergartens enrolled in the Free Quality Kindergarten Education Scheme can ask for up to HK$500,000 over the same period.

Applications for the additional funding from the Quality Education Fund will open in July. The fund already supports pilot projects to boost school innovation and learning but currently schools usually get up to HK$200,000 per project.

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Previously, those seeking larger grants have been told that they would get priority consideration only if the projects match 11 areas of focus, including using e-learning tools and healthy lifestyle promotion for students.

But the criteria for additional funding will be a lot broader, with a simplified application process and a dedicated team to evaluate submissions.

“Having a dedicated team means applications are fast-tracked … so schools can fulfil their dreams by seizing this opportunity,” said Professor Gordon Tsui Luen-on, who chairs the fund’s steering committee.

Schools can fulfil their dreams by seizing this opportunity
Professor Gordon Tsui, steering committee

But he stressed that schools would still have to prove their projects are targeted at curriculum development or serving students’ needs.

For instance, schools looking to push STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education can ask for money to buy a 3D printer and renovate their classrooms with updated equipment, Tsui said at a briefing on Friday.

In his budget address in February, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said the Quality Education Fund Steering Committee would be asked to consider earmarking HK$3 billion for “curriculum development and student support measures, as well as relevant school improvement works and purchase of school supplies”.

How will the extra HK$2 billion for recurrent spending on education help Hong Kong students?

Tsui said the HK$3 billion set aside under the Quality Education Fund would be enough to dole out up to HK$2 million each for the schools.

The fund, started in 1998 with HK$5 billion in seed money, has been supporting school improvement and learning projects since. With investments over the years, it now has a balance of HK$9 billion.

Jenny Chan Yuen-han, a principal assistant secretary in education infrastructure from the Education Bureau, hailed the simplified application process.

Previously, asking for a grant of more than HK$600,000 would require a processing time of six months, but under the new system, it would take only three months, she said.

The first wave of funding would be issued as early as October, according to a briefing educators received, Chan added.

There are 475 primary schools and 453 secondary schools in the public sector.