Education remains the government’s top priority in terms of fiscal allocation, according to the latest budget announced by Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po on Wednesday.
The recurrent expenditure for education in the fiscal year 2017/18 is estimated to be HK$78.6 billion, representing an increase of HK$3.1 billion from the previous year and accounting for 21 percent of the government’s total recurrent expenditures, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
One of the highlights of Chan’s first budget is the implementation of free quality kindergarten education from schoolyear 2017/18.
The government’s recurrent funding for pre-primary education will substantially increase to HK$6.7 billion as a result.
A total of HK$1 billion has been allocated to boost youth development. Of this amount, HK$700 million will be used to launch vocational education-oriented programs for secondary school children and professional development training programs for teachers and principals.
The remaining HK$300 million would be allocated to the Home Affairs Bureau.
Two-thirds of the HK$300 million will be for the multifaceted excellence scholarship program that will enable students who excel in areas other than academic performance such as sports, arts or community services to pursue undergraduate studies.
The remaining one-third will be used to expand the international youth exchange program to encourage young people to increase their global exposure and broaden their international horizons.
Lawmaker Nathan Law Kwun-chung vowed to vote against the budget, saying that it does not improve the benefits and conditions of frontline teaching professionals, which constitute the most pressing issue in primary and secondary education.
Instead of increasing the number of subsidized places for designated self-financing undergraduate programs, the government should increase the subsidized programs and help students to reduce their tuition debts, Law added.
[Chinese vesion 中文版]
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