Budget 2019/20: Government increases the amount of school social workers

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Wallis Wang、Oasis Li、Cara LiEdited by: Katherine Li
  • 2019-02-27

The government will ensure at least two social workers in all secondary schools across Hong Kong starting this year, announced Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po in the budget speech today. This comes after an alarming increase in student suicide rates and teenage mental illness. This "two school social workers for each school" policy will involve an annual recurring expenditure of $310 million and will be implemented in more than 460 secondary schools.   Mr. Chan said in the budget speech that the objective of this policy is "to enhance teenagers' mental health and stress resilience". Currently, middle schools in Hong Kong are administering the "one school social worker for each school" policy, which was introduced to all secondary schools in 2000. But statistics and surveys show that the mental health assistance currently offered to secondary school students is far from adequate. Based on a statement from the Food and Health Bureau, more and more teenagers and even pre-teens have been diagnosed with mental illness in recent years. The number of cases has risen from 18,900 in 2012 to 28,800 in 2016 — an increase of more than 50% in five years. The juvenile suicide rate in Hong Kong also rose rapidly. HKJC Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention from Hong Kong University estimated that the suicide rate has increased by 76.1% from 2012 to 2016, while the suicide cases of full-time students have risen by 52.6%. "Allocating more social workers to schools definitely can help to provide early detection and intervention to students who might be in distress or have high risks of mental health issues," said Frances Law Yik-wa, associate professor at Hong Kong University and Project Director of CSRP, who responded positively towards the government's new policy. However, while the government's efforts are appreciated, local social worker Emy …

Culture & Leisure

Funded mobile van promotes family reading time in Kowloon Art Festival

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Hailey Man、Fang-Yi ChenEdited by: Vanessa Yung、Amy Ho
  • 2019-02-26

A van parked at the end of the corner while people were strolling down the street of booths in the West Kowloon Cultural District. Unlike other common food trucks, this van was hanging around and selling books. "Nine books about Kowloon City," the banner hanging on the van said. This unique van is owned by Rolling Books, a project aims to encourage reading culture to children living in Hong Kong's remote areas, especially to those in underprivileged families. Rolling Books has been funded by the SIE Fund HK since last year. The Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund (SIE Fund) aims "to create social impact through innovative solutions that address poverty and social exclusion and seeks to foster the well-being and cohesion of society," the government said in an online press release released in mid-January. "A stationary bookstore is too passive for promoting reading culture while a mobile van carrying books around can actively bring the fun of reading to different places and connecting with different people," said Mr. James Chong, the founder of Rolling Books. As a previous owner of an upstairs bookstore which selling mainly art and humanity books, Mr. Chong wants to promote literary and artistic culture through the project even it is particularly focus on children books. Rolling Books was invited to introduce books about the old district during the Kowloon City Art Festival this year. Mr. Chong selected nine books specifically to illustrate the landscape and history of Kowloon City in Hong Kong and match the theme. "There are a lot of books here that are not usually found in mainstream bookshops," Mr. Chan Nan, a customer looking for books by the van, said. She suggested it was good to recommend books with a theme of old Kowloon City, By orienting book recommendations for public …


Co-living: Deluxe, dorm-style housing thrives amidst skyrocketing rents

Right next to the entrance door at the flat, a pile of chaotic shoes scattered on the floor. Their millennial owners were winding through the 200 sq ft house on a party night. There is soothing melody swimming through the room as some are preparing dinner in the open kitchen. Finally, the tempting aroma of the cooked food hijacks everyone to the glossy dining table, regardless of whether they are indulging in booze, casual chats or watching movies in the living room. At the first sight, the size of the place doesn't look much different from any other cramped subdivided flats in the city. Yet, there are small details that stand out. Apart from spotless communal living room, bathroom and open-kitchen, the flat is embellished with a modern twist of high-spec, sophisticated décor and even a digital piano. The reason: it is a co-living house. The contemporary concept of co-living, a manifestation of the emerging trend of sharing economy, means  "any shared living space among total strangers". It involves living in close proximity and sharing of resources. The communal nature of such housing arrangement is way beyond just flat-sharing — it also stresses the need for social belonging, community and affiliation. The popularity of such housing arrangement has slowly swept across Asia in recent years. In Mainland China, the term co-living first emerged when a group of youngsters found the YOU+ International Youth Community in 2012 upon their return from the overseas. Soon by the end of 2016, nearly 90 operators boomed across the country, leading by the largest co-living operator Vanke Port Arrangement that has managed more than 60,000 units. Likewise, Singapore has had investment companies investing in co-living startups, such as Helmet. Despite co-living still being a novel idea in Hong Kong in general, some property owners have already seized …

Running marathon in the dark

  • 2019-02-22

Nearly 3000 runners are limbering up for the Lunar New Year half marathon at Sha Tin Sports Grounds, including over 200 visually impaired athletes. Cheung Chi-pang, a 56-year-old man who lost his sight 20 years ago, has well prepared for the upcoming 21 kilometres long race. "My families are always supportive of my identity as an athlete," he said, "they are so amazed that I can run for such a long distance." Mr. Cheung hardly did exercise until 2009. He still remembers the painful experience when he first gave running a try. Despite running as slow as possible, his atrophied muscles could not bear and the shins were severely inflamed as a result. After leaving the hospital, he strengthened his muscles by picking up exercise gradually under the guidance of coaches. As a member of Blind Sports Hong Kong(BSHK), Mr. Cheung takes part in the training three times a week and has fulfilled 17 full marathon races in the past decade. He considers that making efforts to practice is the most essential skill to run better. "An effective communication with the guide runner is also important, we will have perfect teamwork if we can tacitly understand each other," he added. The younger man standing beside Mr. Cheung is Gary Wong Chi-sun, a policeman of Hong Kong and one of the 300 guide runners of BSHK. It is the second time that they cooperated to run the marathon. He happened to meet visually impaired athletes with special logos on their vests and volunteered to be a guider five years ago. The guide runner shows the orange hand strap that connects the visually impaired runner with him and explains that it helps the athlete to distinguish the direction when running. "This hand strap can also be regarded as the establishment of a relationship," …

The Sky's the limit for Hong Kong Women's Rugby

  • 2019-02-20
  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Anna Kam、Maisy MokEdited by: Japson Melanie Jane、Michael Shum
  • 2019-02-20

Hong Kong Women’s Rugby has come a long way since building it from the ground up. Starting from only participating in one Asia tour per year, to debuting at the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup in Ireland. According to World Rugby, the Hong Kong Women's Rugby team is now ranked 23rd in the world and is the only team lead by a female head coach in the competition. "Hong Kong women’s development has been improved in the last 5 years on an international level and local level," says Chan Leong-Sze Royce, Women's forward’s coach and ex-national player. Hong Kong National Women's 7s team and 15s team has obtained significant achievements in the last couple of years. Hong Kong Sports Institution (HKSI) has funded the Women's 7s team as a full-time training squad in 2013. "10 years ago we have one tour per year. Players train six weeks before one tour, and after the tour, you dismiss and go back to your class, and train with your coach." said Christy Cheng, Captain of National 7s team. Now, the Hong Kong 7s program has since become Cheng's full-time job. However, there are still players from the 15s team who has to work for a nine to five job besides playing for the National. Cheng hopes that the media can give more exposure to the women's rugby scene, hence benefits more players to be contracted and get resources that are required to focus solely on sports. "The 15s team has also been significant in terms of development, where in the past, there was probably only one team for Hong Kong, whereas now we can talent seek and build two teams that are contenders on the international level," said Jo Hull, Hong Kong National Women's Rugby Head Coach, at the open training which - …

Culture & Leisure

Notorious housing issue introduced into children's book

While the notorious housing condition for the poor has been the top concern of many from the working class in Hong Kong, Janas Lau Pui, a local artist specializing in children’s book and graphic novels, decided to make it a relevant topic to children by creating an illustration book. "Usually, the stories for children are about daily activities like going to the salon or going to the zoo but I want to use it as a tool to communicate with children about social issues," said Ms. Lau. Born and raised in Hong Kong in the 80s, Ms. Lau once experienced living in a cramped flat, a 300-feet space with nine family members and a double deck bed. "I wonder why the living condition nowadays is even worse than I had 30 years ago, so I want to produce a piece and raise people’s awareness about it," she said. Named as "Where is my next home?", an exhibition for the book is now held inside a nostalgic Cantonese dessert store in The Mills, an industrial place that has been revitalized into a cultural complex consisting of retail shops, co-working spaces and start-up hubs. Having been published in countries like UK and Australia, Lau's illustration book has an international readership. She recalled that a 9-year-old reader from Australia once asked why the rooftops of the buildings in Sham Shui Po were so shabby in her book. Ms. Lau told him to go and observe the buildings in that area and explore the reasons behind it. Ms. Lau thinks that it is hard to explain or watch news programmes with children, so it would be easier to open topics about social issues by using a children’s book. "I think this topic is too advanced for my four-year-old boy, which he can't really relate …

Photo Essay

Discovering the city of Lijiang through taste

Northwest in Yunnan Province in China, Lijiang is a city rich culture. Its Old Town area has more than 800 years of history which played a crucial role during the ancient Silk Road. Craig Au-Yeung, show host and food columnist, along with his wife Millie Wong, showcase their travel experiences in Lijiang and demonstrates an uncomplicated but hearty Yunnan home dish — Stewed Potatoes and Rice — for the participating food enthusiasts. This workshop took place in the Taste Library on the fifth floor of PMQ in Central, a 2000 square-foot space which encourages culinary explorations through the form of literature with books from around the globe.  

Photo Essay

Chinese New Year speciality: Fish-shaped rice cakes

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Anna Kam、Nadia LamEdited by: Katherine Li、Anna Kam、Nadia Lam
  • 2019-02-04

Following two families creating beautiful rice cakes in the form of fish at PMQ. During the Lunar New Year, the fishes symbolise having financial surplus while the rice cakes symbolise that children with grow taller and also do better in the coming year. Two families with two lovely girls prepare to start their craft with the help of Cordon Bleu graduate, Andy Dark, who teaches them how to create beautiful rice cakes.


IB and DSE: A Difference beyond numbers

Five years ago, Vanessa Lee Wing-kai was in high school, she chose to study for an International Baccalaureate Diploma, a qualification which was less known in Hong Kong at the time. "The proportion of IB to Hong Kong Diploma of Education students was about 30 to 100. There were two classes of IB students, while there were eight classes of DSE students," said Ms. Lee. In fact, she does not think studying IB made her better than any DSE students.  "IB will only become an advantage if its diverse and integrative learning style suits you," said Ms. Lee. Over the past few years, the number of students admitted to universities in Hong Kong through non-JUPAS (Joint University Programmes Admissions System) programmes such as IB rose significantly. According to data provided by the University Grants Committee, those with IB diplomas increased by 4% over four years. In 2013, Gabriel Matthew Leung, Dean of the Department of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong, said in an open seminar that he hoped to take up the responsibility to ensure local DSE students their right to university education by increasing the overall departmental JUPAS admission quota to more than 75%. Previous record of JUPAS admission numbers online showed a total intake of 150 students for Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery programme at HKU in 2012. But this year, less than half of the 235 students admitted to the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery programme at HKU were JUPAS high school leavers, according to data from HKU. That raised questions on whether non-JUPAS students were given an unfair advantage by Hong Kong's eight UGC-funded universities. Earlier this month, legislator Ip Kin-yuen released an official statement of reply from the Education Bureau which contained non-JUPAS student admission numbers from each UGC-funded …


Discovery Bay community outraged as boathouse families face eviction

On September 9, the usual tranquillity of Sunday evenings in Discovery Bay was disrupted by thousands of residents participating in a demonstration, against the impending eviction of Discovery Bay Marina Club houseboat residents.The move is due to new plans initiated at Tai Pak Bay by the Hong Kong Resort (HKR), a company which owns most of the development projects in the area. All dressed in white shirts, the demonstrators marched from Marina Club on to Discovery Drive and up Sienna Road. They gathered at the centre of the North Plaza at around 6pm, right before the commencement of their community hall meeting. "We want the Hong Kong Resorts to understand that their actions don't just affect the Marina residents, but also this entire community," said Henry Moreno, one of the organisers of the demonstration, who is also the chairman of 208 affected boathouse members. Mr. Moreno moved to Marina Club with his wife and three children just two years ago because they could not afford an apartment in Hong Kong. His boat costed him around $4.4 million, of which he still has a $3 million mortgage yet to be paid. However, once evicted with nowhere to berth, his vessel will worth nothing. "I am close to facing personal bankruptcy," said Mr. Moreno, "I still have three kids that go to school here, two in Discovery Bay International School which is owned by Hong Kong Resort and one in Discovery College, who would be out of school if we can't make things work. I have a family to take care of, so leaving the marina with nowhere to go is definitely not an option. But right now I really don’t know where we can go." Discovery College and Discovery Bay International School are the two main schools in the area. In …