In the late 1990s, Hong Kong's government made a strong commitment to promoting "life-long learning" skills. The rationale behind this movement is that people in the fast-pace changing world of the twenty-first century must be prepared to learn new skills throughout their lifetime. One type of learning involves professional and career upgrading. Another involves knowledge for improving lifestyle so that people can appreciate the arts or pursue new hobbies.
Hong Kong has extensive continuing and professional education (CPE) programs. In the UGC supported institutions alone, continuing studies has grown from about 20,000 students in 1970 to more than 160,000 in 1996. In 1997, the 20- to 64-year-old age group in Hong Kong was estimated to be 4,214,300 people. From this group alone, the number of people taking some form of continuing education was 872,360 (even higher if the under 20 working group was included). Among the institutions with large CPE enrollments are HKU (School of Professional and Continuing Education), CUHK (the School of Continuing Studies), City U, Poly U (Centre for Professional and Continuing Education and the Centre for Professional & Business English), HKBU (School of Continuing Education), HKIEd, and the OUHK.
Several other agencies offer different forms of CPE, including the Caritas Adult and Higher Education Service at Caritas Francis Hsu College, the Hong Kong Management Association, the Hong Kong College of Technology through its Information Service Centre of Professional Studies (ISCOPS), and dozens of private firms and government departments.
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