In an exhibition staged by the Workplace English Campaign (WEC) during the Easter holidays, thousands of visitors made their Easter wishes. While they all sought to improve their English standards to enhance competitiveness in the job market, some 90% of them wished for "prosperity to Hong Kong and everyone gets a good job".
Starting from 9 April, the four-day exhibition at Times Square in Causeway Bay came to an end today (12 April). It aimed at promoting the importance of workplace English and the Hong Kong Workplace English Benchmarks, and urging people to apply for the Funding Scheme for Workplace English Training for grants to attend English training courses offered in the market by the deadline on 1 January 2005.
Visiting working people were invited to mark their wishes on tailor-made cards and hung them on two "Easter Wish Trees" specially set up at the venue.
Mr Michael Tien, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR), was glad to learn that on this special occasion of Easter which had a distinctive meaning of "revival", many people had made wishes for "reviving" themselves by improving English.
"They made wishes for a better economy, and at the same time, better English. This indicates we all agree that a continual improvement in English standards among our workforce is one of the keys to the further growth of Hong Kong economy," he said.
Mr Tien encouraged all employees to grasp the opportunity to apply for training funding for English improvement which would bring them greater confidence and recognition in the job market.
WEC collected over 8 000 wishing cards from the "Easter Wish Trees" during the four-day exhibition. Apart from "Improving English", "Prosperity to Hong Kong and everyone gets a good job" was the most common wishes from over 7 200 people (some 90% of the wish makers). It was followed by "Good Health and Be Energetic" (some 70%).
The Campaign's Ambassador, Miss Kelly Chen, was also invited to attend a special event, Workplace English 2004 Kelly Chen Fun Fun Show, jointly organised by WEC and Radio Television Hong Kong on 10 April as the highlight of the exhibition.
At the show, Kelly Chen also made her own Easter wishes for "prosperity to Hong Kong", "everyone enjoys good health and speaks better English".
Funded by the Language Fund and launched by the Government in February 2000, WEC aims to heighten public awareness of the importance of English in the workplace and motivate the workforce to raise their English standard.
Its major activities include the establishment of the Hong Kong Workplace English Benchmarks and the $50-million Funding Scheme whereby employees may apply for subsidies to attend workplace English training and specified international business English tests.
As of end March 2004, the Funding Scheme has sponsored over 16 600 employees who have successfully completed their training and passed the specified international tests with an accumulated funding amount of $28 million. Another 3 700 employees are either undergoing training or having their applications for reimbursement processed, which will incur an additional funding amount of $8.5 million.
WEC was steered by SCOLAR which was established in 1996 to advise the Government on language education issues in general and on the use of the Language Fund.