Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ8: Enrolment of primary and secondary schools and related issues

     Following is a question by the Hon Wong Yuk-man and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Education, Mr Kenneth Chen, in the Legislative Council today (December 16):


     I have received complaints from teachers that their schools were forced to cease operation due to under-enrolment and they have thus lost their jobs.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the respective numbers of primary and secondary schools which ceased operation in each of the past five years, together with a breakdown by their respective District Council districts;

(b) whether it knows the number of dismissed teachers who have already found new jobs since those schools ceased operation;

(c) whether the Government will reconsider lowering the basis for school places allocation for schools implementing small class teaching ("SCT") from 25 to 20 students per class so as to enhance the quality of teaching and learning as well as reduce the number of schools which have to cease operation; if it will, of the time to do so; if not, the reasons for that; and

(d) given that according to the Policy Address delivered by the Chief Executive this year, only 65% of public sector primary schools are implementing SCT starting from Primary One, which is below the goal of 70% set by the Education Bureau, of the reasons for that; when the remaining 35% of public sector primary schools will implement SCT?



(a) The number of public sector primary schools that had ceased operation in the past five years, viz. from the 2005/06 to 2009/10 school years, for not meeting  the minimum threshold number of Primary One (P1) students under the Consolidation Policy of Under-utilised Primary Schools is set out by district at Annex I.

     The above-mentioned policy is not applicable to public sector secondary schools.  All along, secondary schools have ceased operation due to various reasons such as the demand and supply of school places in the district, the school's own preference, etc.  According to our record, the number of public sector secondary schools that had ceased operation in the above-mentioned period is set out by district at Annex II.

(b) We do not have statistics covering the employment situation of teachers of the above-mentioned schools upon their cessation of operation.  That said, we are concerned about the stability of the teaching force.  All along, we have rendered assistance to the redundant teachers of aided primary schools to facilitate their appointment.  For secondary schools, the Education Bureau has put in place various support measures and options to facilitate the stable development of schools and the teaching force.  Besides, we will continue to implement the Early Retirement Scheme for Aided Secondary School Teachers for eligible teachers so as to alleviate the teacher redundancy problem of the schools mentioned above.

(c) Small class teaching (SCT) (i.e. allocation of 25 students per class under the Primary One Admission System (POA)) has been implemented in public sector primary schools starting from P1 in the 2009/10 school year.  The implementation of SCT is the Government's commitment to quality education.  It is not a means to tackle the reduction of classes, cessation of school operation and surplus teachers, etc. amidst the student population drop.

     We fully appreciate the concern of the education sector over the declining student population.  We have provided various development options, which include re-participation in the forthcoming POA cycle should there be anticipated shortfall of school places in the school net where  the school locates, undergoing special review, joining the Direct Subsidy Scheme, operation of P1 class under private funding, or merging with other schools, etc. to facilitate schools to continue with their operation.   Furthermore, the minimum threshold number of P1 students has been reduced to 16 students per class alongside with the implementation of SCT, thus alleviating the impact of under-enrolment on schools.  In fact, only one aided primary school failed to operate P1 classes in the 2009/10 school year.

     With the implementation of SCT from P1 in the 2009/10 school year, we have currently no intention to further reduce the number of P1 students per class under the POA System.

(d) We adopt a pragmatic and flexible approach to implement SCT, taking into account the practical circumstances such as the availability of classrooms, number of trained teachers as well as the wishes and needs of schools, parents and students.  Indeed, the majority of the stakeholders agree that adopting a "one-size-fits-all approach" to reduce the class size under SCT would be inappropriate.  Hence, we have not laid down a target figure for SCT.  We reported the progress of our preparation for the implementation of SCT in public sector primary schools at the Legislative Council Panel on Education meeting on February 29, 2008.  As stated in paragraph 7 of the relevant discussion paper, "out of 463 public sector primary schools participating in the current cycle of the POA, 323 schools or 70% have confirmed their readiness to implement SCT with effect from the P1 cohort in the 2009/10 school year, i.e. they would like to adopt the class size of 25 for admission of students under the Primary One Admission System (POA) beginning that year".  The afore-mentioned "70%" reflected those schools which had indicated their intention to implement SCT in the 2009/10 school year.  In our course of planning for SCT, we have to take into account individual schools' wish to implement SCT, the number of classrooms in the school nets and the latest population projections in assessing the demand and supply of classrooms in each school net during the 6-year planning cycle (with the first planning cycle from the 2009/10 to 2014/15 school years).

     Upon assessment, in view of the anticipated shortage of school places in Yau Tsim Mong and Sham Shui Po districts in the next six years, schools in these districts which have opted to implement SCT were not allowed to do so in the 2009/10 school year. As such, a total of 301 public sector primary schools have implemented SCT in the 2009/10 school year, amounting to 65% of the public sector primary schools.

     The second planning cycle of SCT (i.e. the 2010/11 to 2015/16 school years) has been completed.  The number of schools to implement SCT will increase to 318 (69%) in the 2010/11 school year.  In the light of the aspirations for SCT in the education sector, we believe that all schools would implement SCT in due course.  We will, in March every year, invite schools which have yet to implement SCT to indicate their proposed implementation year to facilitate our planning.

Ends/Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Issued at HKT 14:01


Print this page