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LCQ16: Supply and demand for school places

     Following is a question by the Hon Albert Ho and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (February 15):


     Over the years, the Education Bureau (EDB) keeps on closing schools, and a number of schools ceased operation because of under-enrolment.  However, it has been learnt that the birth rate this year will increase due to the Year of the Dragon effect.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the cumulative number of schools (including primary and secondary schools) which have been closed thus far due to the aforesaid reason, together with details about the usage of the premises and land of such schools; and

(b) whether EDB will re-open closed schools in response to the increase in the number of school-age children a few years later as a result of the rising birth rate due to the Year of the Dragon effect, so as to cope with the future demand for school places; if it will not, of the reasons for that?



(a) Under the policy on "Consolidation of Under-utilised Primary Schools" ("Consolidation Policy"), 86 public sector primary schools could not meet the minimum threshold number of Primary One (P1) students and have ceased operation from 2004/05 to 2011/12 school years.  There is no consolidation policy for public sector secondary schools.

     The Education Bureau (EDB) has an established mechanism for handling the disposal of premises of primary schools that ceased operation under the Consolidation Policy and premises of secondary schools that ceased operation for various reasons.  Among the 86 primary schools premises and 15 premises of secondary schools that have become vacant during the above period, 36 of them have already been deployed/reallocated for further educational uses (of these 36 premises, 21 have been redeployed/reallocated for school use, 3 for decanting use and 12 for other educational uses with recent examples including onscreen marking centre of the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, offices of the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications and the Employees Retraining Board, vocational training centres, post-secondary education use etc.)  Another 16 premises have been provisionally earmarked for further educational uses.

     The remaining 49 premises are considered not suitable for further educational uses given their limited size and remote locations.  Therefore, they have already been or will be returned to the relevant government departments for disposal in accordance with the relevant lease conditions and established policy for other uses where appropriate.

(b) As for the long-term planning for education services, EDB will make reference to the projections of school-age population which are compiled based on the population projections released by the Census and Statistics Department, actual numbers of students studying at various levels at present and the latest demographic changes (including the possible increase in birth rate in the Year of the Dragon) to estimate the future demand for school places and related resources.  As regards P1 places, all along there may be changes in individual school nets under Primary One Admission System between years.  The EDB has an established mechanism to increase the supply of P1 places for individual school nets through introducing temporary measures, such as borrowing P1 places from neighbouring school nets or operating additional P1 classes in the school net concerned, to ensure that every eligible child would be allocated to a school in the vicinity of his living place as far as possible.    

     We will monitor the changes of the supply and demand for school places in different districts and take timely measures to meet the relevant demand. Under the established arrangement, if there is any vacant school premises that would be available for recycling and for application by school sponsoring bodies for school use, we will allocate the premises through the School Allocation Exercise after considering a basket of factors including the relevant lease conditions of the land where the premises is located, quality of school proposals and track records of the school sponsoring bodies etc.

Ends/Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Issued at HKT 12:36


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