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In the 2015 Policy Address released last month, the Chief Executive introduced two new initiatives to Youth Education and Development: Provide subsidy for students to join at least one Mainland exchange programme each in the primary and secondary stages; and double the number of primary and secondary sister schools in Hong Kong and the Mainland to about 600 pairs within the next three years. The purpose of these initiatives aims at broadening the horizon of young people and providing more ways out, but do senior secondary school students share the same opinion?
The Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre (the Centre) today released a new edition of Occasional Paper on ‘How do Hong Kong’s senior secondary school students perceive capitalising on the opportunities in Mainland China?’, which serves as a pilot opinion survey on exploring the perception of local senior secondary school students on Mainland exchange and internship programmes, and their willingness to pursue further development in the Mainland in the next five years.
The survey has successfully interviewed around 1,000 Secondary 6 students from nine local whole-day secondary schools. Over 60% of respondents are willing to participate in Mainland exchange programme with the intention of gaining valuable cultural experiences in the Mainland, whereas for those who are unwilling to participate, public security, personal safety and food hygiene are major pull factors. The interviewees stated that more subsidies and diversified activities could encourage their participation in Mainland exchange tours.
The survey further indicates that about 98% of respondents have never participated in any Mainland internship programmes, however, 40% of interviewees are willing to take part in the programmes in the interest of acquiring job skills and experiences. Students are more willing to engage in Mainland exchange and internship programmes if they are provided with opportunities to work for renowned enterprises, a high level of subsidy and an issuance of a certificate.
Only around 30% of interviewees are willing to cross the border to pursue development in the Mainland in the next five years. One-third of respondents stated that the desire of exploring further opportunities in China would become stronger if more practical support measures are in place.
One interesting finding is that those who have participated in Mainland exchange programmes before are apparently more willing to engage in Mainland-related programmes. Over 80% of them are willing to participate in Mainland exchange programme again, while for those who have never taken part in any similar programme, only around 40% are willing to join. The figure is half of the preceding group. This suggests that having preliminary explorations of the place may extend positive effects on senior secondary school students’ perception of China.
The Centre has released a survey on the ‘Attitudes of Hong Kong Youth towards Seeking Employment in Mainland China’ last month, which shares similar findings with this survey targeting senior secondary school students. The most significant common factor which hinders young people from pursuing further development in the Mainland is a lack of knowledge about Mainland China. Nevertheless, they can only find out whether China is a land of opportunity by stepping out of their self-perceived boxes.
The Centre recommends the Government to maintain close communication with various stakeholders to meet the multifarious and changing needs of young people, assisting them in leveraging our competitive advantages and moving in the right direction. The contents of the programmes should be diversified and practical, and support service should be adequate and timely, ensuring that public resources are properly used.
Please refer to the Occasional Paper.