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Thursday, July 28, 2016, 23:41

Program for underprivileged students wins award

By Honey Tsang and Li Xiange

HONG KONG — A one-year teaching fellowship program for underprivileged students in Hong Kong won the top award on Thursday in a competition in which startups partnered with large-scale corporations.

Teach4HK, a non-profit organization founded by a group of young people in 2013, won the gold award at the “Bees & Trees Alliance” Finale, a multi-disciplinary initiative bridging NGOs and business leaders.

Over the years, it has provided a platform for new university graduates to go into one-year teaching fellowship, contributing to the education sector.

The jury team, made up of around 120 business big names, also announced two silver, and three bronze awards to six contesting teams on the spot.

Doctor BB and Woodrite won the silver awards. While the bronze awards were given to Easycare, Elite Thai Boxing and Fitness, and Happy Retired.

The Bees & Trees Alliance project helps match up NGOs with leaders in business in a bilateral commitment with reciprocal benefits and duties. Founder and Chairwoman of Golden Age Foundation Rebecca Choy Yung told China Daily.

The Convener of Business for Social Good Bernard Chan said corporations should take an interest in current social problems.

He urged enterprises to pull together showcasing corporate responsibilities, which in turn can help resolve these problems.

Last year, Teach4HK recruited six full-time teachers, selected from more than 100 applicants.

The six are all university graduates from various disciplines, including journalism, business management and chemistry.

Planning for its next one-year program, the group intends to expand the outreach to include 10 teachers.

The founder and CEO of Teach4HK Arnold Chan said the 10 teachers are responsible for teaching sessions and extracurricular activities as well as organizing career-planning programs for the students.

Chan said last year they partnered with three schools and taught over 2,000 underprivileged students. More than half of the students are from single-parent families or relying on allowances from the government.

Gabi Chan Ka-lam, a graduate from the University of Hong Kong, just finished her one-year program with Teach4HK. Chan said many of the underprivileged students lack confidence.

Through some extra activities, their outlook could be expanded. They learn that there are many things they can do in society with other skills.

By partnering with companies, the program gives the students exposure to business world which few of them had experienced before.

Students were taken to financial companies in Central where English is the working language or to top-level hotels to know how hotels operate. These visits can enrich students’ knowledge and help them identify future careers goals, said Chan.

Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa were also present at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre to watch the presentation.

Hong Kong is facing deep-rooted social issues such as a growing aging population, Lam said.

The coalition between social innovators and business community could exert a beefed-up influence to resolve today’s intractable binds, she added.

Bees & Trees Alliance is a scheme launched by the non-government organization Our Hong Kong Foundation in 2016. It has a mission to get innovators and business elites to develop plans to deal with developmental needs in Hong Kong.

Renowned British innovator Geoff Mulgan pioneered the “bees” (individual innovators) and the “trees” (big organizations) theory.

He believes a social change could be achieved by an alliance between the two, in which the creativity of “bees” is complemented by the strength of “trees”.

The gold medal teams are granted with a money award of HK$100,000. Each silver and bronze team will receive HK$60,000 and HK$30,000, respectively.

honeytsang@chinadailyhk.com

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