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LCQ 14: School closure


    Following is a question by the Hon Jasper Tsang Yok-sing and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Professor Arthur K C Li, in the Legislative Council today (May 18):


Twenty-two schools failed to admit a minimum of 23 students for operating subsidised Primary One classes in the coming academic year.  It has been reported that one of them was a Y2K school which commenced operation in 2000 and its construction cost was as high as 100 million dollars.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the justifications which had been considered when the construction of that new school was approved; whether it has assessed the reasons why the school, which has commenced operation for only five years, still fails to admit sufficient students even with such considerations;

(b) whether it has drawn up plans regarding the usage of the above Y2K school upon its cessation of operation; if it has, of the details; if not, whether this will amount to a waste of land and resources; and

(c) whether it will allow under-enrolled schools to continue their operation in the light of the special situations of individual schools?


Madam President,

(a) All school building projects proposed by the Government are subject to thorough deliberation, due consultation with the local community through District Councils, and funding approval from the Legislative Council before implementation.  These projects, regardless of their locations, must be formulated on the basis of sound justifications, specific policy objectives and the long-term interest of students.  However, owing to the usual lapse of four to five years between project planning and completion, during which there may have been some social changes (e.g. changes in the school-age population), individual school building project may not match seamlessly with the prevailing situation when the school commences operation.

    As regards the building project of the School asked about by the Hon Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, its planning commenced as early as 1996.  According to the population projections then available, there would be a shortfall of 58 primary school classes in the school zone concerned in the 1998/99 school year.   As such, the then Education Department proposed to build a new primary school comprising 30 classrooms in the school zone to alleviate the shortfall in school places as projected.  The funding application in respect of the project was fully justified and hence approved by the Legislative Council in July 1996.  Construction commenced in 1997 and the school premises were completed in 2000.

    Considering the under-enrolment in Primary One (P1) class of the School and the need to optimise the use of public resources, the Government has decided to cease subsidising the School to operate P1 class in the coming academic year.

(b) The Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB) is presently examining the feasibility of a proposal submitted by the School on collaboration with other schools or operating classes with private funds.  If there are vacant school premises arising from closure of schools, in line with optimal utilisation of public resources, the vacant school premises will be used for conversion to whole-day primary schooling, re-provisioning, decanting or other educational purposes.

(c) Before coming to the conclusion that government subsidy should cease to be provided for a particular under-enrolled school, EMB will give due consideration to all circumstances of the case including the supply and demand of school places in the district at which the school is located, the quality of education services provided by the school, the possibility of its collaboration with other schools, its special situation, etc.

Ends/Wednesday, May 18, 2005


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