Guidelines offered on student mentoring

An anti-poverty program affecting students with mentorship requires a sustained approach rather than a one-time effort.

That was the message from Amy Chan Kung Wai-ying, who chairs the Child Development Initiative Alliance.

But she also said she was happy to see such a plan and would like to have more details on the support system for high school students from grassroots families.

“The general manager presented the project [on Wednesday]but there were no details,” Chan said. “If the program aims to address intergenerational poverty, it should be thorough and not ad hoc.

The plan is to be overseen by Chief Secretary Eric Chan Kwok-ki, who leads a task force to lift disadvantaged students out of poverty. It is one of four working groups set up by General Manager John Lee Ka-chiu.

The program will include training and mentorship programs by non-governmental organizations and businesses for disadvantaged junior high school students.

The program is intended to launch with 2,000 students. It will provide them with career planning advice and financial assistance through mentoring for 12 months.

The intention is for mentors to share their life experiences with students and organize tours, work ideas and other activities to help young people broaden their horizons and build their self-confidence to achieve personal goals.

In addition, grants to assist in student development will be disbursed through mentors.

“I think helping a high school student for just one year is not enough to lift them out of poverty,” Amy Chan said.

“I hope we can offer support to students at different stages of their development, depending on their needs at that stage.

“It will be difficult for a mentor to establish a good relationship with a student because they can only be in contact for a limited extracurricular time. It takes time and effort to break the ice and know the needs of a teenager. “

She also said it will be important to give mentors more time to understand a student’s needs if government grants are to be monitored and used for a student’s development.

Asked about the number of 2,000 students, Chan said that was enough for a pilot program, although she said it was a fact that one in four high school students in Hong Kong lived under pressure from poverty, and she hopes the government will be able to get individual matches more widely.

“What I will be looking at is whether the government can develop a workable and sustainable way to address intergenerational poverty with the program,” she said.

Chan added that it will also take effort to match mentors and students, but she added that the level of education should not be the deciding factor.

“We usually have people from the liberal professions and retirees as mentors for young people,” she said, “and the level of education is never a criterion.”

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