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LCQ4:Students' right to education

     Following is a question by the Hon Albert Chan Wai-yip and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (October 29):


     I have received complaints in recent months from members of the public who alleged that some schools, on grounds of poor conduct and learning attitude of students, had forced their parents to sign a letter of voluntary withdrawal, thus depriving the students of their right to education.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of students (excluding graduates) who left school in each of the past three years and, among them, the respective numbers of those who were expelled and those who left voluntarily, as well as their reasons for leaving, and the number of those who were admitted by other schools after being expelled; and

(b) whether the Government will take measures to prevent schools from forcing students・parents to sign letters of voluntary withdrawal on the above grounds, in order to safeguard students against deprivation of their right to education; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



(a) Schools must report to the Education Bureau (EDB) on student departures (including school transfers or at the 7th day of a student's continuous absence).  Generally speaking, the reasons of departures include transferring to other schools, taking up employment, leaving Hong Kong, studying other courses, dropping out of schools, etc.  There has not been any reporting of the reasons of being expelled or being advised to leave school voluntarily.
     When a case of non-attendance or suspected student dropout is reported, the Non-attendance Cases (NAC) Team of the EDB will take follow-up action to arrange for the student to resume schooling at an earliest opportunity.
     The respective numbers of cases followed up by the NAC Team in the past three school years are as follows:

     2005/06       2006/07       2007/08
     4,861         9,356         8,884

     The figure for the 2005/06 school year only included those cases involving students aged 6 to 15.  Since the 2006/07 school year, the EDB has been requiring all primary and secondary schools to report all cases regardless of the age of students, thus resulting in an increase in the number of cases requiring follow-up action by the NAC Team.

(b) The EDB definitely disapproves any means or reasons of advising students to leave school voluntarily.  In EDB Circular No. 11/2006 on :Upholding Students・ Right to Education; issued in October 2006, we clearly explain our policy to schools and urge them to step up measures for assuring students・regular attendance.  Schools are also required to admit dropouts who are ready for schooling, as long as there are existing vacancies.

     The EDB requires schools to help students overcome their learning difficulties and behavioural problems, and to make every effort to teach each and every student in the spirit of:education for all;.  It is against the spirit of education if students are asked to leave school solely on the grounds of poor academic performance or conduct.

     As regards the resource aspect, the EDB requires schools to make full use of the resources provided by the Government to offer diversified and quality education in catering for students of different abilities and aptitudes, and devise appropriate teaching strategies and remedial support measures to help students overcome their difficulties.  In addition, schools should deploy resources as far as practicable with active participation of all teachers to help students cope with their difficulties in learning or adaptation to school life.

     As regards the discipline aspect, the EDB has compiled the Guidelines on Student Discipline and the School Administration Guide.  Schools are required to adopt the discipline strategies with educational relevance, and to take positive and proactive measures in handling students・behavioural problems.

     As regards the monitoring aspect, through inspections, visits and liaison with schools, the EDB monitors the situation and reminds schools to take appropriate and effective measures to help students and protect their right to education.  If it comes to our knowledge that a student has been expelled from a school or the parent of a student has been forced to sign a letter of voluntary withdrawal, thus depriving the student's right to education, we will investigate and deal with the case without delay.  The EDB will take appropriate follow-up action on those schools that have violated the relevant guidelines, including issuing warning letters to the principals concerned.  For schools that repeatedly violate the regulations, the EDB will consider stepping up the measures, including issuing warnings to the school management committees or incorporated management committees, and reprimanding the schools openly.

Ends/Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Issued at HKT 14:53


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