Around 2,000 underprivileged students will be matched with a mentor and given a HK$10,000 subsidy under the government’s new “Strive and Rise Programme” which aims to help lift adolescents out of intergenerational poverty.

Chief Secretary Eric Chan announced the launch of the programme on Monday, saying the first phase would target young teens living in subdivided units.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Chris Sun (left), Chief Secretary Eric Chan (centre) and Director of Social Welfare Charmaine Lee attending a press conference for the Strive and Rise Programme on August 22, 2022. Photo: Screenshot, via NowTV.

The first half of the subsidy will be distributed at the beginning of the programme in October, with the student’s mentor advising them how to spend it. The second half the subsidy will be disbursed at the end of the one-year programme in the form of a scholarship.

Politics plays no part

The official said that matching the students with mentors was key, as it was particularly important to teach the youngsters financial management. The chief secretary said the government hoped to find leaders from the business sector and big corporations or groups, as they could better teach these skills.

When asked whether pro-democracy figures would be considered for mentorship roles, Chan said that the selection process did not favour individuals from pro-democracy or pro-establishment camps.

“Politics is absolutely out of our scope of consideration,” he said. “We are not trying to indoctrinate the children with political ideologies. We hope to teach them to set their own life goals.”

Elite athletes such as Edgar Cheung (first from left), Doo Hoi-kem (third from right), Minnie Soo (second from right) and Lee Ho-ching (first from right) will be “star mentors.” Photo: Screenshot, via NowTV.

Elite athletes such as Olympic fencing gold medallist Edgar Cheung, and bronze medallists Minnie Soo, Doo Hoi-kem and Lee Ho-ching of the women’s table tennis team, also attended the press conference on Monday. Chan said they would be “star mentors.”

Key performance indicator

When asked whether the government has any key performance indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of the programme, Chan said authorities would work with universities to conduct evaluation for students before and after they joined the programme.

Photo: GovHK.

He said the programme focused not on what skills the pupils acquired with the subsidy, but their mindset and thinking, and whether they have a clearer idea on setting their life goal and career plan after completing the programme.

Chan also said the government would expand the programme to recruit more students if capacity allowed. He also called on businesses and the commercial sector to make donations.

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Almond Li

Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.