SCMP Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Students fill fewer than half of Project Springboard places


Fewer than half the
places on Project Springboard, the scheme for students who fared poorly in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination, have been filled in the first round of admissions , it was revealed yesterday.
Ten institutions offering the courses received 2,256 applications from August 13 to Saturday. A total of 5,000 places are available this year.
Last year, all 3,400 full-time places were filled in the first two days of admissions.
The scheme was launched last year as a three-year pilot scheme , backed by a $200 million government subsidy .
Mervyn Cheung Man-ping, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Association for Continuing Education, said the Government must face the reality that
secondary school-leavers had reservations about the scheme .
But Dr Edwin Wong King-po, chairman of Project Springboard management committee, said he was satisfied with the number of applications. "The committee announced early this month that the 10 institutions could provide as many as 5,000 places this year so as not to let school-leavers down," he said. "But that only constitutes the full capacity for the scheme in the 10 institutions. It is not a set figure."
The programme costs about $30,000 and offers courses in English, Chinese (including Putonghua), mathematics, commerce and information technology.
The qualifications of students who graduate from Project Springboard are equivalent to five passes in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination.
Graduates can seek government jobs or higher education through associate-degree programmes. But the scheme's critics say it is not being widely recognised by the business sector .
Mr Cheung said the Youth Pre-employment Training Programme, aimed at
improving the job prospects of 15- to 19-year-olds, was more popular than Project Springboard. The scheme is free and provides three months' on-the-job training.