LCQ12: Private Independent Schools

     Following is a question by the Hon David Li and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (June 1):


     With regard to the school places for local students in Private Independent Schools ("PISs"), will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that in reply to a question raised at the meeting of this Council on March 16 this year, the Secretary for Education stated that local students studying at international schools include students who are Hong Kong permanent residents (with the right of abode in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) and do not have any foreign passport (except British National (Overseas) Passport), while in response to my question at the meeting of this Council on October 17, 2007, the Secretary for Education indicated that, "since PISs are intended to serve a more locally-based student body, we generally expect the 'local children' served by these schools to be permanent residents of Hong Kong", why the Education Bureau has adopted different definitions for "local" students/children in such two contexts (i.e. for international schools and for PISs);

(b) for each PIS currently in operation, of the total amount of construction grant provided by the Government; for the 2010-11 school year, the total number of applications received and the number of students admitted at each grade; as well as the total number of students enrolled, and among them, the number of local students (in terms of the definition of local students/children for PISs and that for international schools respectively);

(c) in terms of the definition of local children for PISs, of the total number of local students enrolled at international schools in Hong Kong, with a breakdown by name of school and presented in the same table format as in the aforesaid reply to the question of March 16 this year;

(d) whether the Government has made any estimation on the total number of primary one school places required for local children (who are children of permanent residents of Hong Kong and who hold a foreign passport) and the places available for them at both international schools and PISs in the coming three years; if it has, of the details; and

(e) as it has been learnt that some parents and school administrators expressed concerns about the level of the annual government subsidies to the English Schools Foundation and how many school places are available for students who are children of permanent residents of Hong Kong and who hold a foreign passport, whether the Government has acknowledged their concerns, and whether it has any policy to provide additional school places for these students at an affordable fee to address their concerns?



     The establishment of Private Independent Schools ("PISs") aims at facilitating the development of the private school sector.  They inject more variety into the school system and give parents more choices.

     My reply to each part of the question is as follows:

(a) Since the policy objectives of international schools and PISs are different, their respective admission targets are thus not the same.  According to the prevailing policy, PISs are required to admit primarily local children, which should constitute at least 70% of the overall student population.  As PISs serve mainly local students, the basic requirement is for these students to have Hong Kong permanent resident status.  Having taken into account the diversified curricula and unique circumstances of each PIS in terms of student admission, and addressed the demand from local children for diversified private school places, "local children" is defined in broad terms to facilitate PISs in formulating appropriate admission strategies.

(b) The amounts of Government's capital grant provided to the eight PISs in operation for construction of school buildings are set out in Annex I.  In the 2010/11 school year, there are around 9 500 students enrolled in PISs.  Of which, 87% are local students and 13% are other types of students.  The enrolment figures and ratios of local to other types of students of individual PISs are listed in Annex II.  The breakdown of students by grade and by school in the 2010/11 school year varies as the scale of operation differs amongst schools.  For the primary levels, schools enrolled from around 70 to 170 students at each grade, and for the secondary levels, schools enrolled from around 40 to 150 students at each grade.  We have no relevant record on the number of applications for admission received by individual PISs.

(c) As explained earlier, the policy objectives of international schools and PISs are different.  Hence, their respective admission targets are not the same.  As regards the number of students enrolled in international schools in the 2010/11 school year, following the method of calculation adopted in our reply to the Legislative Council question of March 16, 2011, there are around 32 000 students enrolled in international schools.  Of which, 13% are local students and 87% are other types of students.  The breakdown by individual schools is set out in the relevant reply.

(d) We collect data on the provision of school places and the enrolment figures through our annual survey to closely monitor the supply and demand of school places in the international school and PIS sectors.  In the coming three years, we estimate that the number of international school places will increase significantly from 36 000 to 38 500, while that of PISs will increase from 10 600 to 11 600.

(e) We are reviewing the subvention arrangements for the English Schools Foundation ("ESF").  The issue of whether or not the present mode of subvention should continue and other related matters would be examined, having regard to the provision of education services by the ESF under the present day circumstances.  Specifically, the review will cover a number of areas including the ESF's role and positioning, its admission policy, financial arrangement and fee-related arrangements.

Ends/Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Issued at HKT 13:14