Every youth has a dream … is it true in HK?

What is the issue? - Facts & Research Studies

Students from under-resourced families need additional support to help them access to high quality and higher education
A study by The Education University of Hong Kong (then HKIEd) in 2013 revealed that the gap between the rich and poor in their access to university education had widened significantly in the past 20 years. In 1991, 9.3 percent of the top 10 percent richest enrolled in university degree programs compared to 8 percent of those living under poverty line. In 2011, the percentage for the top 10 percent richest jumped to 48.2 percent compared to 13 percent.

Source: HKCSSS
Source: HKCSSS

Another study by The University of Hong Kong (2010) on Earnings Mobility also affirms a positive correlation of intergenerational educational attainment between parents and children. The findings indicated that only 20% of children would likely receive a degree if their parents had only a primary or below education, compare to 74% of chance for their counterparts whose parents are degree holders.

There are many schools that need support to cope with disadvantaged students' needs
There are around 480 local secondary day schools in Hong Kong according to the Education Bureau; 140 are Band 3 schools. Out of those 140, 64 are in the poorest six districts (i.e., Yuen Long, Kwun Tong, Kwai Tsing, Sham Shui Po, Wong Tai Sin and Tuen Mun).

There are many students who need mentors to help them prepare for their future and engage meaningfully with the society
According to HK Examinations and Assessment Authority the DSE results in 2017 (and similarly in 2016 and 2015), ~60% of day students did not meet the general requirements for local undergraduate university program (of total 57,058 students). Also relevant is that more than 30% did not attain a level 2 or above in five subjects including Chinese and English, meaning more than 17,000 students will have to repeat S6, find a job or seek other options. Even if we apply a conservative that only 1 in 5 of those come from disadvantaged families, ~3,500 students each year would have left school and many are conceivably unprepared for their future. While the cumulative number of these unprepared youths may still be under-estimated or even unguarded by the society, it is no doubt escalating to become a critical mass.

Youth having a positive attitude is important and the issue is ever more critical
Since the start of the academic year in September 2015 through June 2016, Hong Kong had seen a spike in the number of students who committed suicide as 35 students had taken their lives (Source: The Samaritans Befrienders Hong Kong). According to the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention at the University of Hong Kong, the suicide rate for those aged 15 to 24 has increased from 7.1 per 100,000 people in 2005 to an estimated 8.9 per 100,000 people in 2016.


Needs assessment of socially and financially disadvantaged students in Hong Kong:

Over the past 8 years, TUF has worked with 19 schools operating in the poorest districts in HK - and typically in lowering banding schools, yet all sharing the same conviction to be supportive to their students. From our frontline experience and observation, in addition to issues such as students’ discipline, intake management, etc., our Partner Schools face other intensively challenging problems and typically the following:

Students have learning and self-concept issues due to their family backgrounds:
50% or more of students in our Partner Schools receive government assistance. While low socio-economic status may entail or even encourage poor self-image, the lack of confidence in their learning ability and their ability to succeed in the examination system accounts for greater damage.

Students have weak family structures. A caring, supportive school environment becomes ever more crucial:
According to the latest survey by a Partner School principal, 70% of his students in his school have “incomplete” families – meaning that they may be in single parent families or may be taken care of by their grandparents, etc. This is not atypical for schools TUF collaborated with where students have complex or dysfunctional families and may have issues to face at home, such as violence and neglect.

Low expectations of their future due to absence/weak family support on their studies:
Many students do not see much prospects in themselves, nor how the education opportunities they are getting can promise breakthroughs. Some students already work part-time jobs after school while some choose to drop out of school before completion to earn money for themselves or help their families.

Recent arrivals from Mainland China needing more support:
At some of our Partner Schools, over 10% of students are Newly Arrived Children (“NAC”), and the numbers are expected to grow. These children are largely from lower socio-economic backgrounds and clustered in the poorer districts in Hong Kong. In addition to isolation owing to diminution of extended family support, they must cope with the new living and school environments. Moreover, adapting to the academic curriculum - especially English - is often the most daunting experience. They lack confidence to learn and fell behind in class.

Wide disparity in English abilities within a class making it difficult for teachers to care for those weaker or less motivated students:
More than one school principals noted that some of their S4 students cannot recite all 26 letters. Teachers, however, are time-tight and under much pressure to complete the curriculum as scheduled, and hardly any resource left for them attending to the needs of individual weak and unmotivated students. This unfortunately creates a downward spiral in motivation and achievement, and setting a vicious cycle in motion.

How do we tackle the issue? – TUF program strategy

Teach Unlimited Foundation (TUF) collaborate with schools operating in the poorest districts in Hong Kong to provide full-time, school-based, customized support to students by means of well-structured mentorship and additional learning support systems. The service is delivered through selected high caliber university graduates - trained and coached by TUF - as Program Mentors whose intervention focuses on instilling positive values and attitudes, empowering them to take responsibility in their learning and their future. As students grow in resilience, self-control and trust in their ability as life-long learners, they are much more prepared to face life’s challenges, ameliorating the vicious cycle of poverty.


  • Our unique proposition is youth mentorship being integrated in the school system. TUF models the way how the proactive and generative process of mentoring to be used as the core intervention in youth education. We advocate utilizing the time-critical window of schooling years, and in the school settings, to help students leverage education as an equalizer to improve their life prospects and social mobility, and to successfully adjust, engage and contribute to the society in the future. Why Mentorship?
  • Our distinct focus is improving self-esteem, learning attitude and motivation. We see these as the pre-requisites for them to reap the true benefits of the education opportunities available to them. By instilling positive attitudes, building confidence and motivating them to aspire to a better future, young people take ownership of their learning to develop life skills, positive connections with communities, and the ambition of contributing back to the society.


  • Our X-factor is people, because we passionately develop university graduates to lead change. TUF inspires, recruits and empowers high calibre recent university graduates as change agents to lead the change in students and in schools. Our investment in a well-structured, learning-driven and person-oriented development program executed by passionate and professional trainers and coaches explains this envious success.
  • We serve as the enabling agent collaborating cross-sectors within schools and enlisting community support to bring about the change. The success will inspire a mind shift change on the critical importance of youth mentorship in Hong Kong, enabling impact to be multiplied and benefit more students for years to come.



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