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LCQ20: School Management Committee of government schools


Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Man-kwong and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Professor Arthur K C Li, in the Legislative Council today (June 30):


It has been reported that a former Secretary-General of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, who had been fined $600 and bound over for three months for taking part in a demonstration, was selected by the alumni association of a Government secondary school to act as a member of the school-based management committee (SMC) of the school at the end of 2001, and delayed for more than ten months before the Permanent Secretary for Education and Manpower (PSEM), who has the power to refuse to appoint a member of SMC of a Government school, offered him conditional appointment. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the details of the above incident, including the date at which the relevant person was selected by the alumni association, the stance of the Education and Manpower Bureau, the progress of the case, and the inclination of the alumni association; and whether there have been similar incidents since the reunification; if so, of the relevant details;

(b) of the basis of the PSEM's power to refuse to appoint an SMC member; if the basis is legislative, of the relevant section(s) and details of the provision(s); if the basis is an administrative decision made according to policy, of the relevant policy document(s), guidelines or regulations; and whether an elected member of an SMC of a Government school is, like a manager of a subsidized school, entitled to seek judicial review when his/her appointment has been rejected;

(c) whether concrete criteria are in place for determining if the appointment of an SMC member of a Government school should be rejected; if they are, of the details of the conditions and considerations pertinent to refusing to appoint an elected member of an SMC of a Government school, with an explanation on the relevant procedural arrangement;

(d) whether the authorities will take into account the nature of the relevant offence in considering if a person with a criminal record should be precluded from taking up the post of member of an SMC of a Government school; as the offence committed by the relevant person in the above incident was a very minor one, why PSEM still refused to appoint that person as an SMC member;

(e) during the period from the election of the person involved in the above incident to act as the SMC member to the beginning of June this year when the incident was revealed by the media, whether the authorities have informed all the teachers and students of the school of the fact that the person had not been appointed, and after the revelation of the incident, whether the authorities have explained the matter; if they have, of the details of the explanation; if not, the reasons for that and whether the lack of explanation contradicts the spirit of democracy, accountability and high transparency of school-based management; if they have, of the assessment results; and

(f) whether the authorities have appointed anyone with a criminal record to act as a member of the SMC of a Government school since the reunification; if they have, of the details?


Madam President,

(a) The person in question is a member of the alumni association of the Government secondary school and was elected by the association in November 2002 to act as one of the two representatives of the alumni to the school management committee (SMC). He later declared that he had a criminal conviction relating to an offence committed in May 2001 against which he was appealing.

Subsequently, the school concerned and this Bureau contacted the alumnus to ascertain the details of his criminal conviction. The information furnished in January 2003 disclosed that he had had two criminal convictions relating to offences committed in May 2001 and February 2002. His appeal related to the conviction of February 2002. Noting that the offences were committed within a short period of time (i.e. May 2001 to February 2002), the Bureau decided to determine his nomination for appointment to the SMC after his appeal against the second conviction had been decided by the court.

The alumni association elected a new cabinet at its annual general meeting held in November 2003 and maintained its decision as to its elected representative. Although the appeal was heard in February 2004, the date of decision was still unknown.

In view of the fact that the appeal is in progress and having regard to the resolution of the alumni association, this Bureau decided that the alumnus is to be conditionally appointed as an SMC member, subject to a decision to be made after the verdict of the appeal.

Since the introduction of the SMC framework in Government schools in the 1999/2000 academic year, there has been no similar incident.

(b) Government schools are educational institutions run by the Government under the direct control and management of the Bureau. Being the officer responsible for Government schools, the PSEM has to formulate policies and instructions relating to their operations.

To enhance the effectiveness and to increase the transparency of the Government schools, with effect from the 1999/2000 school year, an SMC framework was set up for Government schools and a sample constitution for such SMCs drawn up by this Bureau. The appointment of any SMC member nominated by the chairman of the SMC is made by the PSEM under the constitution of the SMC. Unless there are any special reasons, the persons nominated by the chairman of the SMC are appointed by the PSEM as SMC members.

The SMC is an administrative body established by a constitution which is not legislation. Judicial review is therefore unlikely to be applicable in this case.

(c) As schools are the venues for nurturing young people's moral and ethical values, this Bureau has stringent requirements as regards conduct, integrity and character for persons who wish to participate in education service, including SMC members.

Generally speaking, the chairman of the SMC will consider a nomination by the relevant sector, and will decide whether to nominate the individual for appointment by the PSEM.

(d) As mentioned in Question (c) above, this Bureau has stringent requirements for SMC members of Government schools as regards conduct, integrity and character. If a person has committed an act which offends morality or ethics, he will not be appointed a member of an SMC. Where a person has been convicted criminal offences within a short period of time, this also calls into question whether this person has any respect for the law.

(e) Adhering to the principles of accountability and transparency, the chairman of the SMC and the school have been in communication with the SMC (the members of which include the school principal, representatives from the teachers, the alumni association and the Parent-Teacher Association of the school) and the alumni association concerned to keep them informed of developments in the case.

As the nomination of the individual concerned contains his personal particulars, it was not appropriate to discuss the case with other persons or on occasions other than in the context of the SMC and the alumni association.

(f) Since the introduction of the SMC structure to Government schools in the 1999/2000 school year, this Bureau has adhered to the criteria stated in (c) above in appointing SMC members in Government schools. This Bureau has not received any nominations for appointment to the SMC relating to persons with criminal convictions within the past 20 years.

Ends/Wednesday, June 30, 2004


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