A total of MOP744.38 million (US$93 million) was disbursed by the MSAR Government to local residents in the second phase of the Continuing Education Development Plan 2014-2016, according to government data.
The amount distributed for the second phase registered an increase of around 40 per cent when compared to amount of the first phase, held between 2011 and 2013.
The plan assists local citizens aged 15 or above to take part in local or overseas educational programmes by giving out MOP6,000 per person.
The spokesperson of the Executive Council, Leong Heng Teng, also disclosed on Friday that a total of 167,369 local residents had received the subsidy of the second phase of the plan, indicating a participation rate of about 43 per cent.
In terms of age group, citizens aged 25 to 39 were the most active in utilizing the amount, making up 41.8 per cent of the total population engaged in the plan.
The official data also shows that a total of 92,835 local programmes provided by 367 local entities were approved under in the plan, of which 89,760 programmes related to continuing education and 3,075 were licensing examinations.
Of the total funds provided, some MOP83.55 million went to 16,836 applicants accepted for courses in foreign institutions, while a further MOP2.24 million went to 884 applicants for credentials exams from foreign institutions.
According to the mid-term review of the second phase of the plan released last year, 81 per cent of the respondents say the scheme helped them to enhance their knowledge and skills.
The review was conducted by Hong Kong Policy 21 Limited and commissioned by the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ).
Continuing Education Development Plan 2017-2019
The Executive Council also announced on Friday the launch of the third phase of the plan.
The amount for the latest plan will remain the same at MOP6,000 per applicant, said the spokesperson.
Mr. Leong explained that the plan for 2017 and 2019 has improved and simplified its registration and approval procedures, while the rest of the content remains unchanged.
Given the limited number of fraud cases in the previous phases, deputy director of the DSEJ, Lou Pak Sang, said applicants can provide the receipt of the paid programme without submitting further proof of attendance, while noting that the monitoring of applicants will be continued.
According to the rules of the plan, overseas examinations need to be internationally recognised in order to be approved for the subsidy, including exams such as TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System).
Wong Chi Iong, the chief executive of the Division of Continuing Education under DSEJ added that overseas programmes required recognition from at least three countries or regions to be perceived as internationally recognised.
“Our intention is to ensure the professionalism of the applied examinations and also to encourage more citizens to take overseas examinations, so as to supplement the city’s professionals in certain fields,” explained Mr. Wong.
The plan, according to the spokesperson, will be officially launched tomorrow after a dispatch released today in the Official Gazette.