SCMP Wednesday, August 9, 2000

Puzzled pupils jam telephone hotlines


Thousands of pupils and their parents have been jamming telephone hotlines, complaining that they are in a state of confusion over a new system of government subsidies and the Secondary Six admission system.
Welfare groups running the hotlines said hours before today's release of the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination results that their lines were extremely busy.

Hok Yau Club, one of the largest voluntary organisations offering counselling services to pupils seeking examination results, said they had received more than 1,600 calls so far. "Most of them were pupils, with 20 to 30 per cent parents," said group social worker Chu Wing-sheung.

She said most callers were seeking information about the Joint Secondary Six Admission system and the associate-degree programme. "Most of the inquiries were over Project Springboard because it has just been introduced - people know little about it," she said.

The Government's $200 million Project Springboard is aimed at helping HKCEE pupils with poor results.

Ms Chu urged pupils to remain calm and to talk to their parents and friends, even if they had received disappointing results. "Pupils should plan according to their individual results and, above all, they should communicate well with their parents," she said.

Chow Mee-tim, a social worker at the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Welfare Council, said that of the 200-plus calls the group had received by last night, 55 per cent were from parents and the remainder from pupils.

"The parents asked all kinds of questions as they were worried about their children and knew little about the Secondary Six admission procedure," she said. "The pupils asked specific questions about the Joint Secondary School Admission system and the associate-degree programme plus Project Springboard."

Ms Chow said the pupils called various universities and received different answers. "Obviously they're very confused. The universities should clarify programmes and admission procedures," she said.

The government-subsidised bridging programme was mainly designed for Form Five leavers with disappointing examination results. More than 8,700 places are available and classes will begin in October. The charge is $25,000 to $30,000 for full-time pupils, and applications are based on a first-come first-served basis.

Baptist University, one of the institutions offering the course, said it had been receiving application forms for a month. The 60 full-time places were taken; there were some 2,000 part-time places left.

New World First Bus said it would increase its services to cope with the demand of pupils wanting to enrol at schools outside their areas.