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LCQ6: International school places

     Following is a question by the Hon Audrey Eu Yuet-mee and a reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (May 25):


     It has been reported that many members of the senior echelons of multinational enterprises came to Hong Kong to take refuge after the serious earthquake in Japan; and the Immigration Department indicated earlier that there was a significant increase in the number of visitors from Japan coming to Hong Kong for refuge, with many of them bringing their family members along.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the numbers of applications for relevant work visas received and approved by the authorities so far; whether they know, among such applications, the number of applicants who have brought their family members along to Hong Kong; given that the Education Bureau (EDB) indicated earlier that the average admission rate of the international schools in Hong Kong reached 88% at present, whether the authorities have assessed if the aforesaid significant increase in the number of members of the senior echelons of multinational enterprises coming to Hong Kong will further aggravate the tight supply of international school places at present; and whether they have any measure to ease the present problem of tight supply of international school places; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) given that EDB has indicated that 37 primary and secondary school premises had became vacant in the past three years, among which 14 have already been deployed or re-allocated for educational use while 13 have been provisionally earmarked for educational use, including those for future development of international schools, of the original names, addresses and duration of vacancy of the 37 primary and secondary schools; which 14 schools have already been deployed or re-allocated for educational use, and which 13 schools have been provisionally earmarked for educational use; and

(c) given that the list of international schools currently uploaded to EDB's web site provides information on school places in the 47 local international schools only up to 2009-2010, of the numbers of places in such international schools (in tabular form) at present?



     The Administration supports the development of a vibrant international school sector in addressing the demand for school places from overseas families living in Hong Kong, and families coming to Hong Kong for work or investment. Our response to the three parts of the question raised by the Hon Audrey Eu is as follows:

(a) Since the earthquake in Japan on March 11, 2011, up to May 17, the Immigration Department has received 203 applications involving transfer of employees from multinational companies in Japan to work at Hong Kong offices, as well as dependent applications from 37 accompanying spouses and 48 children. All applications have been approved.

     Regarding the education needs of children from these families, we understand that some international schools in Hong Kong have taken temporary measures to accommodate children coming to Hong Kong arising from the earthquake largely through utilising vacancies in their schools. Most of these students stayed in Hong Kong on a short-term and temporary basis, and many of them have returned to Japan or other areas to continue their studies. Since only a small number of students have decided to further their education in Hong Kong, it does not have significant impact on the demand for international school places.

     The Education Bureau has been taking a three-pronged approach to promote the development of the international school sector.  These measures include allocating vacant school premises and greenfield sites for development of international schools, as well as facilitating in-situ expansion of existing international schools. The four existing international schools that have been allocated vacant school premises to facilitate expansion have progressively come into operation in the premises, providing more than 500 international school places in the 2011/12 school year.

     In addition, over the past two years, there were a total of nine international schools applying to the Government for using vacant school premises as temporary campuses under tenancy agreement. All applications have been approved. The majority of the schools have also completed refurbishment of vacant school premises and commenced operation. We will continue to consider on a case-by-case basis should there be similar applications from school sponsors in future.

     With the above measures, around 5 000 additional international school places are expected to come on stream in the coming few years.

(b) The 37 school premises referred to in the question spread across 18 districts. The districts in which they are located and the year in which these schools ceased operation are set out at Annex 1.

     Among these premises, 14 have been redeployed or re-allocated for further educational uses. Details of these schools are set out at Annex 2. On the other hand, 10 premises were found not suitable for educational purpose owing to their limited size and remote locations. The Education Bureau has returned these 10 premises as listed at Annex 3 to relevant Government departments for disposal.

     For the remaining 13 premises earmarked for further educational uses, the Bureau has been following up to take forward plans to redeploy the premises. Since the plans are being processed and scrutinised, the Administration is not in a position to disclose details at this stage.

(c) According to the student enrolment survey conducted in September 2010, the 47 international schools in Hong Kong have provided about 36 000 places. Amongst them, there are about 4 100 vacancies, including about 1 900 at primary level and 2 200 at secondary level, which spread over the Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. Breakdown on the number of school places provided by individual schools are set out at Annex 4.

Ends/Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Issued at HKT 14:46


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