|LCQ1: Protection of children's rights
Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Kwok-che and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (June 3):
Regarding the implementation of policies relating to children, will the Government inform this Council whether:
(a) the authorities have no intention at present to set up a Commission on Children; if they have such an intention, of the timetable; and
(b) the Government has set up any mechanism specially for coordinating and dealing with policies relating to children at present, so as to deal with the problems arising from the implementation of the Pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme, the provision of subsidy to needy students for payment of Internet access charges, and the difficulties encountered by students with specific learning difficulties studying in mainstream schools?
(a) The Government attaches great importance to the protection of children's rights. Relevant bureaux would take into consideration the important factor of children's interests and perspective in formulating relevant policies.
Regarding co-ordination, matters concerning children cover a wide range of policies which are being taken care of by the respective bureaux. Mechanisms are in place within Government for co-ordinating and handling policies that involve different bureaux and departments. The leading bureaux would consult other bureaux and departments in considering and dealing with relevant issues. Furthermore, the Policy Committee, led by the Chief Secretary for Administration, provides a high-level mechanism for co-ordination and co-operation.
As regards the collection of views, departments will duly consult relevant advisory bodies in formulating and implementing measures and policies related to children. The Family Council, established in late 2007, is tasked to examine, from the family perspective, departments' policies and programmes designed for different age and gender sectors (including children). It serves as one of the platforms for deliberation of child-related issues. Furthermore, children's views and suggestions are gauged through the Children's Rights Forum. The Government will continue to liaise with, and listen to the views of, non-government organisations that are concerned with children's rights.
We consider that the existing arrangements are operating satisfactorily, and enable us to flexibly respond to concerns and views expressed by different sectors of the community on child-related issues. We will continue to make full use of existing mechanisms and avenues, in order to utilise resources effectively for the promotion of children's rights. We consider that there is no pressing need to set up an additional commission which specialises on issues concerning children’s rights.
(b) Issues such as those regarding the Pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme and the difficulties encountered by students with specific learning difficulties studying in mainstream schools are under the purview of the Education Bureau (EDB).
Since the implementation of the Pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme, the EDB has maintained close collaboration with the Student Financial Assistance Agency, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) and government departments concerned in co-ordinating matters relating to the voucher subsidy. The EDB has also been working closely with the SWD in streamlining the arrangement for fee subsidy for families under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme.
Under the prevailing policy on integrated education, the EDB has put in place mechanisms and measures to support schools in catering for students with special educational needs, including those with specific learning difficulties. Apart from providing additional resources for schools, such as the Learning Support Grant with a ceiling of $1 million per school, the EDB also offers structured teacher training, provides various forms of professional support and develops different types of teaching resources.
On Internet service fee for students, with the collaborative efforts of bureaux and departments, the Government has launched various measures to support students from low income families in using computers and the Internet.
Ends/Wednesday, June 3, 2009