Li cash for Tuen Mun DSE examination studentsTop News | Amy Nip Jun 19, 2017
Introduced last year, the pilot program "Decide Well, Spend Wisely" provides unconditional and direct financial support of HK$5,000 to 2017 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education examination students from Yuen Long, Tin Shui Wai and Island Districts.
After the inclusion of Tuen Mun it will cover a total of 91 schools and more than 10,000 students.
"We are grateful for the overwhelming community support and the numerous thoughtful comments and suggestions in particular relating to the 'unconditional' aspect of the program," the foundation said.
"Most see it as a meaningful breakthrough. We also received many compelling e-mails from schools, parents, and community groups" supporting the program's expansion to Tuen Mun, it added. Last year, participants were asked to fill in a questionnaire to help fine-tune the program. Of the 5,700 students who applied for funding, 4,244 responded.
About 70 percent of the respondents indicated that they would spend the money on school-related activities, such as DSE fees, reservation fees and purchase of test preparation books and tutorials. Others said they would save the money or use it for family expenses, shopping or travel.
The scheme enables students to understand the concept of making financial decisions and taking responsibility for their choices, the foundation said.
"For many students, it was the first significant amount of cash that they received, allowing them to open their first savings account," the foundation added. "They said they treasured the opportunity to make their own financial plans and weigh material desires against functional expenditures and savings.
"Some students said they used the money to buy clothes for their siblings, others made donations."
The foundation has engaged a consultancy firm to assess the program's impact on students, parents and society, as well as on relationships.
About 6,500 students from 63 schools were eligible for this year's program. The foundation forked out HK$28.5 million.
The outlay will rise to HK$50 million if 10,000 students apply under the expanded program.
Choi Kwok-kwong, principal of Yan Oi Tong Chan Wong Suk Fong Memorial Secondary School and Education Convergence chairman, praised the scheme.
"There are more grassroots people in these districts, people with needs. It's good to assist the students."