The Hong Kong government last year spent a record amount on overseas education allowances, mostly to send the children of civil servants to school in Britain, despite proposals to do away with the generous perk.
Some 4,000 children are expected to benefit from the allowances in 199596, at an estimated cost of Pounds 26.5 million.
Even though civil servants are entitled to virtually free education for their children in Hong Kong's English Schools Foundation schools, based on the British system, the rise in numbers sending their children overseas is an indication that it is still a popular perk.
Children as young as nine qualify to study abroad, but with 1997 looming, the government believes it will be inappropriate to continue to fund education in Britain. However, strong resistance from officers, and government fears that any review would severely affect the morale of local civil servants in particular, led to reassurances that only new recruits are likely to be affected.