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致各位特首候選人:你對香港的青年有甚麼願景?

不經不覺,我擔任青年事務委員會主席已差不多兩年。由學校到深夜的街頭、由資優生到清貧學生,我一直都珍惜每個與青年接觸的機會,希望能多了解他們一點。成年人或多或少都對青年抱持某程度上的偏見,很少真正聆聽他們的聲音。但其實香港的青年充滿活力,有各種不同的想法,只要加以栽培,將能成為社會發展的動力。

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在今年的施政報告中,政府展現了成立青年發展政策的決心。青年的需要橫跨多個政策範疇,包括教育、就業、房屋、公民參與、身份認同、身心健康等,因此青年工作往往牽涉多個持份者。青年發展政策將可提供一個統一長遠的願景,讓社會能朝著目標共同努力。

就我而言,我希望香港青年能開心、健康、堅強地成長。青年工作非一朝一夕,亦非即時可以見到成效,但根據我的觀察及親身接觸,最需要繼續努力的,始終還是與青年最貼身的兩個範疇──教育與就業。

教育

培養學習興趣,實踐終身學習

很多學生、家長,甚至教師,都只將學習視為將來獲得高薪厚職的入場券,而非以追求學問或滿足好奇心為主要目的。這導致學生普遍對課堂興致缺缺,亦會在無形間加重他們的壓力。不少學生告訴我,考試及功課的重壓,令他們沒有時間休息及放鬆,更遑論培養課餘愛好。學習本應是快樂的,只有學生對學習感興趣,才能培養出他們的自學能力。我們應給予學生足夠的空間自主學習,探索興趣,發揮所長。這樣將能徹底釋放他們的潛力,甚至為社會發展帶來更多意想不到的可能性。

香港的教育制度,以考試成績作為評估學生的主要標準,有時或會忽略了對好奇心、創意、表達能力、解難能力,以至其他生活技能的培育。對於如何改善教育制度,社會上眾說紛紜,而我則認為,教育應以培養學生對學習的興趣為前題,從而實踐終身學習的理念。我們亦要檢討生涯規劃教育的成效,讓學生基於興趣和能力,作出最適合自己的升學和就業選擇。

就業

優化職業訓練和自資課程,充當商、校之間的橋樑

近年,青年接受專上教育的比例持續上升,而這些新增學額主要來自自資副學位課程。但有研究就表示,副學位畢業生在勞動市場上供過於求,而他們的就業收入,始終比學士學位畢業生為低,反映不少僱主對副學位畢業生的質素和課程資歷有所質疑。另一方面,他們要升讀學士學位也不容易,或因而跌入「升學就業兩不成」的困局。更糟糕的是,有學生因此背負高昂的學債,以致未投身社會,就先面對沉重的財政壓力。

不過,職業和收入的向上流動性減弱,不單影響副學位畢業生,更波及整體青年人口。雖然青年的教育水平有所上升,但他們整體的就業收入卻没有明顯改善,而起薪點及薪金上升的速度甚至呈下降的趨勢。大學畢業生的就業前景,明顯比上一代遜色。有研究就指出,從事低技術職位的大學生越來越多。不少青年投身職位較多的批發、零售、進出口貿易、飲食及酒店業,然而這些行業的高薪職位卻相對較少,年輕僱員或因此感到難以向上流動。

樓價日益高企,但青年的收入卻没有改善,也難怪他們會感到前路茫茫。歸根究底,除了因產業不夠多元外,亦反映出人力資源失衡的情況。政府除了可繼續促進產業多元外,亦宜擔當促進者的角色,加強官、商、校合作,提供平台讓有關界別了解學額供求的情況,以及討論何提升職業訓練和自資學位課程的質素。

對於有志於體育、文化、藝術等方面發展的青年以及年輕創業家,我們也應給予足夠的支持與鼓勵。這些青年面對的,除了是家長、老師及社會方面的壓力外,亦有不少實質的難題,例如運動員訓練場地不足,退役後前景不明朗;藝術家需要更多的工作空間和器材支援;創業家籌集資本面對重重障礙,難以將創意付諸實行。這些青年的未來,充滿著無限的可能,政府應在政策層面上提供幫助,讓他們能放心追夢。

年輕人處於成長、轉變的階段,必然會有各式各樣的訴求。以上提到的,只是一些我認為下一屆特首應該優先處理的事項,而成立青年發展政策,正好讓我們就社會對青年發展的願景進行諮詢。最重要的,是我們大家都要放下成見,真正聆聽青年的聲音,了解他們所想。我希望香港的青年,能開心、健康、堅強地成長。各特首候選人,你對他們又有甚麼願景呢?

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網上安全圓桌會議 Online Safety Roundtable

昨晚有幸和Facebook的網絡安全專家 Mia Garlick 以及本港的學者和非牟利機構會面,包括香港青年協會香港小童群益會,一起探討如何為年輕人建立一個更安全的網上世界。

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香港有超過九成人使用Facebook, 其中不少是年輕人。Facebook 在亞太區推出不少安全工具,確保青年可以放心使用Facebook,其工作十分有意義。

除了Facebook之外,其他持份者的支持也相當重要。很多網上欺凌的案件以及其他網上風險,是跨平台的。就個人行為來說,線上和線下的分別亦漸趨模糊。我們要做好校內教育和社工外展工作,加強媒體宣傳和相關的法律規管。

「網上安全」的條件有很多——上網成癮、網上滋擾、仇恨言論、假新聞,甚至個人私隱,這些都與網上安全有關。當然,這些問題有不同的解決方法,但席間大家得出一些初步的結論。

我們要改善年輕人的數碼能力和網路素養。青年用家除了要對網上存在的風險提高警惕以外,亦要懂得辨認網上資訊的真假,有效、安全地使用不同的社交媒體平台。另一方面,前線社工提到有些網上用家彷彿認為他們不用為線上行為負責,電腦顯示屏減少了人與人之間的尊重,令人低估自身行為對別人的影響。我們必須在這方面加強教育。以網絡欺凌為例,旁觀者其實有能力加劇或制止欺凌行為。

要改善網絡安全,預防和教育最重要。然而,何謂網上有害行為,不論是海外或本港的社區都未有共識,這令宣傳工作難上加難。網上平台和用語日新月異,要真正了解年輕人的線上行為和背後原因,對症下藥,亦不容易。因此,跨界別交流,有助社會就基本定義和最佳做法達成共識,更有效地規劃將來的工作。希望這一次會面,為未來更多的交流奠定基礎。

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Last night, I had the pleasure of meeting with Facebook’s Asia Pacific online safety expert Mia Garlick and Hong Kong academics and NGOs, including The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG) and The Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs Association of Hong Kong (BGCA) to discuss how to make the Internet a safer and better place for youth.

Facebook shared what it is doing to enhance safety for users. More than 90% of the Hong Kong population uses Facebook so it is encouraging to see so many meaningful initiatives on their part.

But we also need other stakeholders’ support. Many cyberbullying cases and other risks on the Internet occur across platforms. The line between offline and online behaviour is increasingly blurred. So we need to strengthen work on all fronts, from school education to social workers’ outreach to media campaigns to legal intervention.

Online safety is also a broad term and it requires us to address issues like Internet addiction, cyberstalking, hate speech, fake news and privacy concerns. While solutions to these problems are varied, some common themes emerged.

We need to improve our youth’s digital and media literacy and Internet etiquette. Young users should be more alert as to Internet risks, more skilful in finding and using information online as well as in utilising various social media platforms. At the same time, we should not neglect the other side of the equation. Oftentimes a computer screen reduces people’s empathy and respect for others, and accountability for their own actions. It makes people less mindful of the impact of their actions and less willing to help others. We talked about inactive bystanders on social media which makes cyberbullying all the more harmful.

Prevention and education must be the way forward. Yet a major hurdle in awareness raising is the difficulty in defining Internet unsafe or unacceptable behaviour. Another complication is understanding and responding to online behaviour in an appropriate and timely manner, given that new platforms and Internet language emerge everyday. This is why stakeholders’ exchange is critical for the local community to move closer to reaching a consensus on fundamental definitions and best practices, as well as on next steps ahead. Hopefully, this will be the first of many similar occasions.

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An Open Note to all Chief Executive Candidates

In the Policy Address 2017, the Commission on Youth (CoY) was asked to put forward proposals for a youth development policy. As the Chairman of the CoY, I ask for the next Chief Executive’s support in formulating a vision for our youth and reaching a unified narrative for all youth-related stakeholders and actions.

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During my term as the Chairman of the Commission on Youth (CoY), I have attached great importance to communicating with our young people. Apart from official activities of the CoY, I have got in touch with young people and listened to their views through less formal channels, including small-group meetings and social media. Many of the youth that I have met are students from all ages and backgrounds, but I have also spoken to young politicians and activists, athletes, entrepreneurs, artists and ethnic minorities. To fully understand our youth and the challenges they face, we must understand the ways in which young people interact with the community at large. This is why I have made sure to engage other stakeholders as well, including parents, teachers and principals, social workers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and private sector actors that are active or interested in youth development.

2017 is an exciting year for Hong Kong’s youth development, but we have a lot of work to do. The CoY was asked to put forward proposals on the future direction of a youth development policy.

Youth development means different things to different people. To many, it means better education and job opportunities. To others, creating space for civic participation is more important. Every young person is as unique as the other. That is why consultation is key for Hong Kong to formulate a youth development policy that meets the diverse needs of our next generation.

That said, I will use this note to outline what I consider to be the HKSAR Government’s (HKSARG’s) and the next Chief Executive’s priorities in youth development, based on my work and engagements in the past two years. Hong Kong’s youth development policy should address the following areas: (1) education; (2) employment and vocational training; (3) the housing and economic situation; (4) civic participation; (5) national identity; (6) technology and social media; and (7) resilience and mental wellbeing.

Education

Inspire lifelong learning

I have heard many criticisms of Hong Kong’s education system. I have no intention to belittle these concerns, though as I have said before, blaming all education woes on the HKSARG or its officials is simplistic and unfair. It might be more constructive to consider two questions: (i) What is the aim of education? (ii) Is our education system designed and implemented in such a way to achieve this objective?

83% of local secondary students study for the purpose of landing a good job, according to a 2016 survey by Education 2.1. My exchanges with parents and teachers yield the same finding. Yet when students are not studying based on their interests or to fulfill their intellectual curiosity, this has direct implications on their subject choice and passion for learning. Year in and year out, our education system produces batches and batches of students competing for subjects that are more likely to give them a “good job” in industries such as medicine, law, business and finance; nonetheless, many of these students told me that they went through years of training to realise that their real interest lies elsewhere. Is this not a failure on the part of our education system? The introduction of Career and Life Planning (CLP) is a step in the right direction, though it is too early to determine its effectiveness.

Our education system is flawed in many ways. The workload of our students is too heavy. 91% feel pressure in preparing for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE), and 37% describe the pressure as “severe”. 35% of our students do not have enough time to rest and relax, and 37% do not have time to explore and develop their interests. Our assessment methods are mostly exam-based. The upshot is an educational experience that does not encourage curiosity, creativity, reflection, expression or collaboration, all of which are skills essential in modern society.

We want our youth to have a personalised education that enhances their strengths and creates opportunities for them to explore and pursue their interests starting from an early age. We need a CLP education that is effective in enabling students to make informed choices about their future and facilitating their transition from studying to working. Currently, best practices for conveying CLP education are not known, and this should be changed through better stakeholder communication.

Effective Career and Life Planning methods should be scaled, and parents’ role in students’ life choices need to be better understood.

Many have made suggestions on how to improve our education system, and I do not need to repeat them here. These suggestions bring out the need for a complete review of Hong Kong’s education system, from its syllabus and curriculum to its assessment methods. Language is a key tool for learning, and Hong Kong has always prided itself on its students’ bilingualism. We must ensure that our students do not lose this competitive edge and continually improve our language pedagogy, including Chinese teaching for non-Chinese speaking children.

Visit to Rosary Hill School to learn about Chinese teaching for non-Chinese speaking students.

Visit to Rosary Hill School to learn about Chinese teaching for non-Chinese speaking students.

We want our students to see learning as an enjoyment and not a chore, so that they will be inspired to embark on lifelong learning.

Learning can take place in many contexts. I observed many informal activities outside the classroom and was impressed by their effectiveness in building students’ soft skills, including problem solving, relationships and wellbeing, and financial literacy. International exchange tours, such as the ones supported by the CoY, enable students to gain exposure. There is much to be said for the HKSARG to support life skills programmes and expand the international exchange network for our students.

Learning outside the classroom - at the Jockey Club Ah Kung Wan Outward Bound Training Centre.

Learning outside the classroom – at the Jockey Club Ah Kung Wan Outward Bound Training Centre.

Employment and Vocational Training

Make young people job-ready

Young people find that, compared to their parents, they have fewer job opportunities and witness smaller pay rises as they climb up the career ladder. Comparing relevant figures in 1991 and 2011, more working youth are in lower-paid associate professional jobs, as opposed to higher-paid managerial and professional jobs. More young people have taken up low-waged, low-skilled service and sales jobs over the past 20 years.

The youth wage growth rate dropped from 45.6% in 1993-1998 to 25.6% in 2008-2013. The starting salary of a fresh university graduate was $13,158 in 1993, but fell to $10,860 in 2013, somewhat eroding the common belief that a university degree guarantees financial return. The problem is exacerbated for youth without a university degree. In 2015, the median monthly earnings of a non-degree holder was HK$16,450, significantly lower than the HK$27,500 of a degree holder.

Our youth enjoy less occupational and earnings mobility than the older generation. The unfortunate truth is there is a mismatch of demand and supply in our labour market. The demand for high-skilled professionals has not caught up with the increased (and still increasing) supply of university and sub-degree graduates. Hong Kong has an excess of sub-degree holders, and this excess was projected to increase even more in 2022.

What Hong Kong needs is a broader, more diversified economic base beyond the real estate, finance and commercial sectors. While we can debate about the appropriate degree of economic intervention to diversify jobs, the HKSARG is at least in a good position to foster communications between employers and tertiary institutions to bridge the demand/supply gap. With increased communications, schools can have more clarity on needs in the labour market, and what employers look for in making hiring decisions. Schools can then be more responsive in providing training to students.

The HKSARG should enhance young people’s job-readiness through creating better opportunities for them to gain work experience in their school years. Hong Kong has many mentorship and internship programmes, yet their quality and impact are rarely evaluated.

We need to move beyond quantitative targets, and ensure that internship programmes deliver their intended outcome.

Youth who want to pursue careers in fields like the arts, sports and entrepreneurship face extra hurdles. Parental pressure and societal norms, as well as financial burden, are but a few obstacles they have to overcome in following an “unconventional” path. These young people in particular need support from the HKSARG, from infrastructure to funding to capacity- and network-building.

Taken at Blueprint, a co-working space for tech start-ups.

Taken at Blueprint, a co-working space for tech start-ups.

Housing and Economic Situation

Support youth to be self-sufficient

Housing comes up as a frequent topic of discussion in my exchanges with youth. Many tell me that buying a property in Hong Kong is almost impossible these days. Yet, for every young person who is distressed by the unaffordability of flats in Hong Kong, there is another individual who tells me that he/she does not put housing at the top of his/her concerns.

Housing was among the topics explored in Hong Kong Ideas Centre's report on the concerns of young people.

Housing was among the topics explored in Hong Kong Ideas Centre’s report on the concerns of young people.

To have a clearer understanding of the issue, my team compiled a Hong Kong Youth Development Index (HKYDI) to provide a quantifiable, objective account of Hong Kong youth’s wellbeing in the past 10 years. HKYDI measures the living situation of young people in Hong Kong across six domains, one of them being economic situation. Based on the results, it is true that residential property in Hong Kong has become less affordable in the past decade. The ratio of youth employee earnings to private residential property prices has risen significantly by 112% from 2005 to 2014. However, other aspects of local young people’s economic situation have improved. Youth poverty rate has dropped by 13.1% from 2009 to 2014, and youth employee earnings have increased by 9.4% from 2005 to 2014.

The primary issue lies in our surging property prices. This should not come as a surprise; indeed there has been ample supporting data and public discussions on this subject. The average price for a small residential unit skyrocketed by 188% from 2006 to 2013, while the median monthly household income increased by a mere 30%. The takeaway is that housing is a policy imperative not only in relation to youth, but everyone in Hong Kong, and addressing it requires long-term, comprehensive strategies and coordination from the HKSARG and beyond.

Increasing housing supply is key, and the HKSARG can also take specific measures to support youth in home ownership. For example, the HKSARG can review the eligibility criteria of public housing for youth based on financial needs, and build more youth hostels (beyond the five locations already identified under the Home Affairs Bureau’s Youth Hostel Scheme). Equally important is for all stakeholders (HKSARG, young people and society at large) to put the issue into perspective. Globally, the transition from youth to adulthood has become more complex and drawn out, and many young people delay moving out of the parental home or return after living independently in college. Such is the case in the UK, the US, Australia, and European countries like Sweden and Denmark. This phenomenon suggests that home ownership is not a prerequisite to financial independence.

In many countries, home ownership is not a prerequisite to financial independence.

Many young people around the world are experiencing delayed home ownership (or financial independence, or both), and our youth need not be discouraged or frustrated simply because of this situation. What the HKSARG can do is to understand the factors affecting youth’s financial independence, and measures that other countries have taken to address this issue.

The HKSARG should introduce policies to support our young people in becoming financially self-sufficient.

Civic Participation

Engage our youth fully and effectively

I have spoken to many young people who feel that their voices are not heard or that they do not have enough influence over policymaking. These young people are passionate about certain causes or social affairs, and would like to have their views acknowledged by the HKSARG, if not taken into account. On the other end of the spectrum, there is a significant “silent majority” among local youth. The turnout rate of young voters aged 18-25 in Legislative Council elections has fallen by 15.9% from 2004 to 2012. Less than half of our young people voted in the most recent Legislative and District Council elections, with the relevant voting rate being 44.5% and 30.2% respectively. Both represent a segment of our next generation, and both phenomena reflect that our youth are not fully engaged on civic matters. While formal platforms and channels such as the Annual Youth Summit and Youth Exchange Sessions exist, they have not been successful in allowing our youth to feel adequately represented.

Yau Tsim Mong Youths' Community Concern Group is a group of passionate young people who meet up regularly to discuss policies affecting youth.

Yau Tsim Mong Youths’ Community Concern Group is a group of passionate young people who meet up regularly to discuss policies affecting youth.

We must not forget that informal exchanges go hand in hand with formal political participation. In my experience, small and casual group chats (instead of large-scale, official events) are often more effective in soliciting candid comments and promoting constructive discussions with young people. Social media is another powerful tool for reaching out to the “silent majority”, and the HKSARG should leverage its full potential in enhancing civic participation.
The HKSARG can place more emphasis on informal exchanges and social media interactions, as well as on encouraging volunteerism.

We must also not forget that community involvement entails more than political participation; it also involves volunteerism. Through engaging youth in community services, young people not only develop positive virtues like citizenship and a sense of belonging to the community, they also hone skills essential for the job market, such as leadership, teamwork, communication, creativity and problem-solving. The HKSARG should encourage and offer more opportunities for young people to give back to the community.

Meet one of the founders of the Second Box, which aims to alleviate elderly poverty through collecting cardboard boxes and aluminium cans from scavengers at a higher-than-market price, and redesigning and selling them.

Meet one of the founders of the Second Box, which aims to alleviate elderly poverty through collecting cardboard boxes and aluminium cans from scavengers at a higher-than-market price, and redesigning and selling them.

National Identity

Facilitate informed decision-making

The HKSARG has had a long history of supporting youth exchange in Mainland China. In 2016/17 alone, the CoY funded more than 300 exchange and internship tours organised by third parties. I personally joined some of these tours to collect students’ feedback. Participants told me that they appreciated authentic exchanges with local people, and free time to explore the destination city and its culture.

Taken at a CoY-funded exchange programme in Inner Mongolia.

Taken at a CoY-funded exchange programme in Inner Mongolia.

 

This has led me to believe that, on the subject of national identity, the HKSARG’s role is to encourage our youth to learn about Mainland China and provide them with adequate opportunities to do so – no more and no less. One’s cultural identity is an individual choice and it can only be meaningfully formed through personal experience and reflection. Measures like rote-learning the Basic Law and Putonghua recital competitions have had limited effect because they convey only superficial knowledge, but do not engender a genuine understanding of Mainland China or create personal resonance.

We must also not forget the fact that Hong Kong has a unique identity and culture that is quite different from that of Mainland China. Because of “One Country, Two Systems”, Hong Kong remains a capitalist economy and has a common law legal system; we continue to use Cantonese and traditional Chinese characters predominantly in our day-to-day lives; and we have very different media outlets. We cannot blame our young people for not feeling as connected as they should be with Mainland China.

Our tech-savvy youth have access to a wide range of information and media online, representing different views on the issue of national identity as well as towards Mainland China. Some sources contain misinformation or stereotypes, and it would be unfortunate if our youth were to base their views on these sources alone. Herein lies the significance of letting our youth have a first-hand experience of Mainland China and its culture.

The HKSARG should provide youth with opportunities to make an informed decision about their cultural identity, while acknowledging that any shift in perception will come from within.

Over the years, exchange and internship programmes in Mainland China have evolved into diversified and interactive learning experiences. For one, destinations now span the whole of China. For another, the types of programmes range from cultural and historical tours, to legal and architectural internships, to volunteer service camps. Precisely because of the scale of these programmes, their standards and outcomes have not been consistent. As the HKSARG continues to support these schemes, it is imperative to evaluate their quality, especially from our young people’s perspective, to make sure that they truly benefit youth.

Technology and Social Media

Enhance Digital Literacy and Minimise Safety Risks

Policy suggestions in this area tend to focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and job creation in the IT industry. I would like to shift the focus to the profound impact that technology has on our next generation. Technology influences how young people interact with each other, and how they perceive the world and themselves. As social media becomes ubiquitous, its role in the lives of millennials has expanded beyond socialising with peers; it is now a space for them to voice opinions on public affairs and organise community actions (the social context). For many young people, social media and, more broadly, the Internet has become an important information and news source, and a platform for creating and sharing one’s work (the academic context). Risks and opportunities exist in both contexts. We need to teach our youth how to make the most out of technology whilst minimising the harm it entails.

Cover page for our research report that looked into sexting, among other risks related to teenagers' use of technology.

Cover page for our research report that looked into sexting, among other risks related to teenagers’ use of technology.

In the social context, social media creates opportunities for young people to express themselves, thereby building self-esteem and establishing their own identity. As alluded to above, the HKSARG needs to better leverage social media as a tool to enhance civic awareness and participation. On the other hand, policies should protect our youth from privacy and safety risks, primarily through prevention and education. Cyberbullying is a real concern in many countries, such as the UK and the US, and yet Hong Kong is lacking in our understanding of the issue.

In the academic context, young people can develop competencies from seeking, evaluating and disseminating information online, and the information fluency they acquire is increasingly critical for success in the modern age. On the flip side, they do face risks of information overload and fortuitous searching.

We must ensure that youth possess the digital literacy to find and process online information and assess their credibility and quality.

The HKSARG should engage stakeholders to better understand Hong Kong youth’s social media use, particularly its potential benefits and how we can leverage it as an educational tool. Where risks exist, it should formulate intervention strategies.

The HKSARG can identify synergies between various entities, including technology companies in the private sector and NGOs to create impactful initiatives against cyberbullying.

Resilience and Mental Wellbeing

Build a generation of resilient youth

The suicide cases among students last year have prompted discussions on the mental health of young people and the formation of a dedicated Committee on Prevention of Student Suicides. The Committee has done ample work to tackle the issue of suicide prevention, but I see these cases as also underscoring a broader principle that Hong Kong has overlooked in youth development – resilience. Resilience is a theme that underlies many youth policies across the world, including the UK, Australia and New Zealand. To borrow the UK’s definition, resilience is the “mental toughness” that helps young people deal with challenge, stress, and pressure. Once we shift the focus from suicide prevention to a proactive, holistic strategy to instil resilience, the question becomes:

How do we equip our youth with the ability to cope with adversity and overcome hurdles in life? This should guide the HKSARG in forming strategies on youth development.

Instilling resilience needs to take place in all contexts. Schools, teachers, parents, social workers, and organisers of youth programmes all play a role. There are two points that we can all remind ourselves of when interacting with our youth. First, we need to provide young people with more opportunities to experience success in different ways. We must move away from elitism and a utilitarian view of extra-curricular activities, and foster a culture of diversity where students learn to appreciate their individuality and strengths. Second, we need to encourage our youth to have a growth mindset – that is, to perceive failures and setbacks as opportunities for growth. To do this, we as adults should let young people try and even fail, and praise efforts instead of outcome. It also entails letting young people take initiative and ownership.

Young athletes at the ChelseaFC Soccer School.

Young athletes at the ChelseaFC Soccer School.

The HKSARG should take the lead in recognising resilience as an overarching principle of youth development. This principle should inform decision-making on allocating resources for youth programmes. The HKSARG should also raise awareness among the public of resilience, diversity, and the growth mindset, to foster a supportive environment overall for our youth to grow up in.

Epilogue

Let's build a generation of happy, healthy and resilient youth.

Let’s build a generation of happy, healthy and resilient youth.

This note identifies the issues pertaining to youth in Hong Kong that necessitate attention and action from the HKSARG, and hence the next Chief Executive. While it does not represent the views of all young people or stakeholders in youth development, it is my personal reflection as CoY Chairman after 420 occasions of youth engagement and public outreach during my two-year term.

What is important is that these issues are all inter-connected in terms of their effect on youth. A young person who struggles in school is likely to face obstacles in finding a job and attaining financial security as well. Yet Hong Kong’s policies pertaining to youth have always belonged to the domains of different bureaux working in silos. What is equally noteworthy is that youth work involves more actors than the HKSARG, depending on the issue at hand. Some issues can be addressed by governmental measures alone; some may be more effectively dealt with at a grassroots level or with the support of the private sector.

Herein lies the significance of a youth development policy. It allows the HKSARG to adopt a cross cutting “youth perspective” in making and implementing all of its policies affecting young people.

A youth development policy is Hong Kong’s long term vision for its youth, a unified narrative for all stakeholders, and a strategic roadmap for future actions.

Our youth are our future. They need our support to be happy, healthy and resilient. A youth development policy lays down our way forward to achieve this goal, and I ask that the next Chief Executive support us in this endeavour.

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青年發展需要共識

國際學生組織AIESEC早前訪問香港青年,發現接近六成受訪青年認為香港於2030年會變得更差。青年對未來的前景悲觀,但實際上情況如何?

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綜觀世界各地,不少國家及機構都建立了一套量度當地或世界各地青年發展的指數,例如英聯邦及澳洲的《青年發展指數》(Youth Development Index,YDI)。反觀香港,似乎仍未有一套全面、客觀的青年發展指數。有見及此,我們製作了《香港青年發展指數》(HKYDI),以六個範疇、十八項指標,量度過去十年香港青年發展的狀況。HKYDI為香港首個客觀量度青年發展狀況的指數,除了供各界參考之餘,亦希望能藉此引起更多有關青年發展的討論。

六個範疇分別為教育、就業、身心健康、公民參與、預防偏差行為,以及經濟狀況。結果發現,香港的青年發展表現反覆,以2008年的表現最差,2014年最好。但整體而言,香港的青年發展狀況相對十年前確有改善。

各範疇中,公民參與的進步最為明顯,尤其是青年參與義工服務方面。政府近年積極推動義工服務,13-25歲登記為義工的青年人口比率,在過去十年持續上升。至於在選舉參與方面,雖然青年的選民登記率有上升的趨勢,但青年在過去幾屆立法會分區直選的投票率持續下跌。

另一個表現得較好的範疇為預防偏差行為。無論是青年的吸毒比率、被捕比率,以至監禁比率皆持續下跌,三者的跌幅依次為43.2%、36.8%,以及74.5%。這或可歸功於香港警方與學校的合作,「警察學校聯絡計劃」就是其中一個例子。

身心健康的表現亦有輕微改善,其中吸煙比率顯著下跌。話雖如此,過重比率以及青年自殺率都有反覆向上的趨勢。自殺一直為青年死亡的主因之一,近年自殺個案有上升的趨勢,情況令人關注。政府已在今年3月成立防止學生自殺委員會,委員會提交的進度報告就指出,學生自殺涉及多方因素,需要教育界、醫護界和社會福利界共同努力,發展全面性策略。

教育方面,則比2005年略差。雖然青年的全日制就學人口比率,以及適齡學生入讀第一年學士學位課程的人口比率,均呈穩定上升的趨勢,但政府在專上課程學生的人均開支佔人均本地生產總值百分比反覆下降,由2005年的52%,下跌至2014年的25%。教育作為青年發展其中一個最重要的範疇,實在值得政府投放更多資源。

青年的就業狀況亦同樣有惡化的跡象。其中,青年就業不足率以及非從事經濟活動的比率,在過去十年間保持平穩。但青年與非青年的失業率比例卻一直惡化,由2005年的2.2,升至2013年的3.4,反映青年相比起其他年齡群組,在就業市場上較為不利。國際勞工組織指出,其中一個原因或是就業出路越來越多,更多青年選擇持續進修,寧願花多些時間探索自己的興趣,亦不願「入錯行」。

最後,經濟狀況的表現為六個範疇當中最差。雖然居住於低收入家庭的青年人口比率,以及青年就業人士的實質薪酬中位數都有輕微改善,但都不及樓價與青年收入比率的惡化嚴重。該比率由2005年的17,劇升至2014年的36,升幅達112%。近年樓價持續上升,很多青年作出「上樓無望」的控訴,似乎也不無道理。

綜合以上六個範疇的表現,香港青年發展的狀況在公民參與、預防偏差行為,以及身心健康方面確有改善;而在教育、就業,以及經濟狀況方面的表現,則較十年前退步。事實上,每個地方的青年發展都有不同重點,因此在建立青年發展指數時,有需要參考當地的青年政策,尤其對青年的願景,以作為評估青年發展狀況的基準。雖然香港現時未以青年政策勾劃出對青年的願景,但支持青年的措施也不少,HKYDI可以作為客觀量度香港青年發展狀況的參考工具,間接反映相關措施的成效。我們希望能藉HKYDI ,提供一個客觀的討論基礎,並讓社會各界一同探討香港的青年發展。

想了解更詳細的結果,請到:youthpolicy.hk/YDI

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我們的青年政策應該是怎樣的?

上次我們談到香港在80年代時差點有青年政策。中央青年事務委員會(下稱「委員會」)所指的「青年政策」,是基於香港的發展趨勢、有遠見的聲明,包含社會對青年的期望和青年發展的大方針這兩項要素。委員會曾考慮制訂具體、包含細節的青年政策,但由於社會對青年政策的內容有意見分歧,而且鑑於青年服務的籌備時間較長,當局若要經常檢討政策細節,不但會耗用大量資源,檢討後實施的改變亦未必能趕上事態發展,最終決定青年政策只包含青年發展的大原則。

綜觀其他國家和地區的青年政策,以英國、瑞典、澳洲、新西蘭、日本、蒙古和澳門為例,縱然各有細微差別 (詳情請參閱下表),但都顯示青年政策不能只列出各項與青年有關的措施,但缺乏整體願景。英國、瑞典、澳洲、新西蘭和澳門都有全面的青年政策,表達對該國年輕人的願景,並設立中央青年機構,確保所有與青年相關的措施都切合政策對青年的期望。專為青年而設的中央機構的另一個作用,當然是分配資源、避免重複工作。而日本和蒙古的青年政策都比較鬆散,措施分佈教育、就業和社會福利各個領域,由不同政府部門管轄,並沒有中央指引或協調。

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英國、瑞典、澳洲和新西蘭的青年政策的另一個特點是它們對青年的態度——它們都著重青年的正面特質,並不把青年視為問題。拿英國2011 – 2015年的青年政策為例,強調給年輕人提供機會,讓他們發展所長,新西蘭也有著類此的聲明。瑞典青年政策的三大支柱的其中之一是讓青年自給自足、掌握自己的人生。另一方面,日本、蒙古和澳門的青年政策展示出一種負面的心態,以風險管理、預防偏差行為為中心 。日本主要以輔導方式解決青年問題,包括兼職並經常轉工的青年、啃老族(意謂沒有受教育或培訓,又不是在工作的青年)、退學青年、犯罪行為等。蒙古主要通過社會福利措施,減少對青年的風險和傷害。澳門以預防青年犯罪作為其政策的主要目標之一。英國、瑞典、澳洲和新西蘭在制訂青年政策時都有諮詢過年輕人,相反,沒有任何證據顯示日本和蒙古當局進行過大型諮詢,而這有否影響各地青年政策的內容,值得大家細想。


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青年政策,就像任何政策一樣,必須切合當地的情況和需要。英國全面、抗逆力為本的青年政策,可能不適合日本的經濟、社會和文化背景,反之亦然。如果我們把上述各地的青年政策概括分成兩類,英國、瑞典、澳洲和新西蘭的青年政策似乎是在光譜的一端,而日本和蒙古似乎是在光譜的另一端, 澳門則介於兩者之間。委員會提出的青年政策與前者比較相近,而最終建議沒有被採納,實在可惜。如果香港設立青年政策,你認為它應該是怎樣的?

(待續)


What should our youth policy look like?

Previously, we talked about how Hong Kong nearly had a youth policy in the 1980s. By “youth policy”, the Central Committee on Youth (CCY) was referring to a high-level, visionary statement of the aspirations and goals for Hong Kong youth and general principles for their development, based on Hong Kong’s developmental trends. CCY decided against a policy with concrete measures, because the public had different opinions and it would not be cost-effective to regularly review specific measures given the lead time in implementation.

I have reviewed youth policies in certain countries and regions, including the United Kingdom (UK), Sweden, Australia, New Zealand (NZ), Japan, Mongolia and Macau. They display subtle differences (for details, please see the tables below), but together they demonstrate what a youth policy should not be – a laundry list of measures relating to youth but without a unifying vision. UK, Sweden, Australia, NZ and Macau adopt a holistic approach, setting a long-term vision for their young people. This vision guides all youth-related measures, and there is a central coordinating body to ensure this; its other function is of course to allocate resources and avoid duplication of efforts. Japan’s and Mongolia’s policies are more fragmented, with measures in education, employment and welfare, but scattered across government departments without a central rationale or coordination.


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Another feature that the UK, Sweden, Australia and NZ have in common is their attitude towards youth – one of positive empowerment, rather than negative problem-solution. UK, for instance, named its 2011-2015 policy Positive for Youth; much like New Zealand, it stresses on providing youth with opportunities and developing their capabilities. One of the three pillars of the Swedish policy is self-sufficiency – to give youth a real possibility to influence their everyday lives. On the other hand, Japan, Mongolia and Macau demonstrate a risk-centered mentality. Japan’s policy talks much about youth problems, e.g., “freeters” (job-hopping part-time workers), NEETs (“Not in Education, Employment or Training”), school withdrawal and delinquency, and uses counseling as the main solution. Mongolia protects youth against harms primarily through social welfare measures. Macau has juvenile delinquency prevention as one of its key objectives. Coincidentally or perhaps not so coincidentally, the first four countries consulted young people in the process of formulating their youth policies, whereas there was no evidence of any official, large-scale consultation in Japan or Mongolia.


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A youth policy, like any other policy, must suit local circumstances and needs. The holistic, resilience model in the UK may not work well in the economic, social and cultural setting of Japan, and vice versa. If we were to simplify these policies into two categories, UK, Sweden, Australia and NZ seem to be on one end of the spectrum, while Japan and Mongolia seem to be on the other end, with Macau being somewhere in between. It was a shame that the CCY’s proposal for a youth policy in Hong Kong was not accepted, but if it were, what should Hong Kong’s youth policy look like?

(To be continued…)

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香港青年政策發展簡史

上次提到,在八十年代已有人提出香港應設立青年政策,可惜被當時的政府否決,箇中原因要追溯到殖民政府處理青年事務的方法,以及當時香港的社會發展趨勢。然而隨著全球一體化、經濟轉型,青年面對各式各樣的挑戰,要幫助他們開心、健康、堅強地生活,我們實在需要一套全面、長遠和適合香港的青年政策。

早於六、七十年代,社會上已有聲音要求設立青年政策,可是政府並沒有積極回應。當時為青年而設的服務,由多個政府部門及志願機構提供,他們各有自己的政策和目標,沒有一套共通的原則。青年服務集中於防範青年罪行、為邊緣青年提供更多社會福利,而非以促進青年發展為目標。

八十年代中期是香港青年事務發展的轉捩點。政府成立了中央青年事務委員會,檢討當時的青年服務,研究其他國家青年政策的發展,並諮詢市民對青年政策的意見。委員會發現若加強青年服務之間的協調,則可更有效地運用資源;而且,青年的需要會根據社會的發展趨向不斷轉變,所以有必要作長遠計劃。因此,委員會建議制訂一套包含青年發展原則的青年政策,成立一個諮詢機構,協助檢討及修訂有關政策。

港督最後否決了制訂青年政策的建議,但沒有表述背後原因。我猜想,這跟殖民政府處理青年事務的著眼點有關,亦反映當局擔心其他群組會作出類似的訴求。

時至今日,香港依然沒有青年政策,當年以社會福利為主、以照顧基本需要為目的的措施,在今天的社會環境已不足以協助青年應付成長路上的挑戰。綜觀世界各地的青年政策,雖然各有各的模式、原則,但都反映當地政府對青年發展的承擔。香港是否應參考其他國家的做法,考慮設立青年政策呢?各國的青年政策又包含什麼要素?下一篇文章我會略作介紹。

想知道更多有關香港青年政策發展的歷史,請瀏覽互動時序表 (Interactive Timeline),或按此下載以下文件:

  • 英文備忘錄 English Memorandum – History of Youth Policy in Hong Kong; 
  • 附件一 Appendix 1 – Central Committee on Youth Working Party on Youth Policy, Report on Youth Policy (1988); 
  • 附件二 Appendix 2 – Hong Kong Council of Social Service Children and Youth Division, Opinion Survey on Youths’ Views on Youth Policy (1988); 
  • 附件三 Appendix 3 – Hong Kong Legislative Council, Hansard (11 May 1988) (see p. 1365 onwards for a discussion on youth policy);
  • 附件四 Appendix 4 – Central Committee on Youth, Report on the Need for a Youth Policy in Hong Kong (1989); 
  • 附件五 Appendix 5 – Hong Kong Council of Social Service, Draft Charter for Youth (Fact Sheet No. 4) (1992); 
  • 附件六 Appendix 6 – Chan Wai-Yin Rosa, The Evolution of a Youth Policy in Hong Kong (1990); 
  • 附件七 Appendix 7 – Mok Hon-Fai James, Hegemonic Accounts of Youth in Hong Kong, 1980 – 1997 (1998); and 
  • 附件八 Appendix 8 – Chan Shui-Ching, A Proposal for Formulating a Youth Policy in Hong Kong for the 21st Century (2009)。

yp_timeline_final

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立法會候選人没有說的事

立法會選舉在即,各候選人的拉票活動都進入最後的衝刺階段。綜觀候選人的政綱及廣告文宣,我發現今次選舉主打的議題,依然是中港關係及特首選舉。我最關注的,當然是關於青年的政策建議。

雖然也有不少候選人關注青年問題,但大部分候選人都是從個別政策的角度出發,例如取消TSA、加快發展公營房屋及青年宿舍、成立青年議會。這些選舉清單式的訴求,都只是從教育、房屋、政治訴求等某單一政策角度而提出。綜觀我所讀過的多份政綱中,只有一位候選人提出要有全面的青年政策。

一百個青年就有一百種需求,不同候選人提出的政策建議,反映出倡議者如何看待青年現今面對的挑戰與難題,但這樣能否確切、有效地回應青年的訴求呢?處方式的政策建議,都缺乏了一個很重要的原素,就是一套關於香港青年發展的理念,以及長遠、全面的政策方針。

當然,這不可單憑立法會議員的力量,政府的配合及肯定亦同樣重要。事實上,香港在八十年代就曾提出設立青年政策,可惜被當時的殖民政府否決,最終未能成事。時至今日,青年正面對新的挑戰,我們到底要怎樣做才能幫助青年開心、健康、堅強地成長呢?我自己也花了很長時間去思考這個問題。接下來的數週,我會繼續探討這個問題,先由歷史出發;接著介紹各地政府的青年發展理念;最後分享一下我自己的看法。

我們不可再將青年的需要視為個別的問題,我在此拋磚引玉,希望與各位一同探索香港青年發展的大方針。

刊於星島日報2016年8月16日

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Youth Financial Literacy in HK | 香港青年的理財知識與能力

Financial literacy is a fundamental skill that is essential to young people. Global leaders and policymakers have recognised its importance in enabling individual well being.

Earlier this year, we did a study to find out HK youth’s financial knowledge, behaviour, motivations, attitudes and financial education needs. We commissioned the research firm GfK to conduct a survey among 500 young people in Hong Kong of the ages 15 to 18.

Through understanding and presenting their level of financial literacy, we hope to supplement existing efforts in promoting financial education in Hong Kong. The Investor Education Center (IEC)’s “Hong Kong Financial Competency Framework” lays down the financial competencies that a young person aged 15 to 18 should have. Our study builds on this, and identifies specific areas of needs and makes policy recommendations to improve Hong Kong young people’s financial literacy.

To find out more, please click the links below:

Report | Executive Summary | Press Release | Survey


青年的理財知識與能力,會影響他們的財務狀況,甚至個人福祉,對青年的成長及未來,扮演著舉足輕重的角色。國際社會及世界各地的領袖都已把理財教育視之為政策要務之一。

今年較早前,我們進行了一項關於香港青年理財知識與能力的研究,委託了市場研究公司GfK,就受訪者的理財知識、行為、動機、態度,以及對理財教育的需要,訪問了500名15至18歲的香港青年。

我們希望籍這次研究,進一步推廣及加強香港的理財教育。投資者教育中心(IEC)出版的「香港金融理財能力架構」,介定了15-18歲青年應有的理財能力。是次研究應用IEC的架構,識別青年理財教育的特定需要,提出相應政策建議。

如欲了解詳情,可到以下連結:

報告全文(只有英文)研究摘要新聞稿問卷

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內地交流及實習計劃・經驗回顧及分享

籌辦內地交流和實習計劃,最理想的做法是怎樣的?過去一年,我們訪問了不少參加者及活動籌辦人,結集了他們的經驗和心得,製作了這份小冊子,為其他舉辦機構提供參考,務求令參加的青年有更好的體驗、更多的得著。

English version   中文版

如果你對小冊子有任何意見,請留言,或前往 hello.mingwailau.hk/travel 了解更多。

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