ESF - English Schools Foundation

Vacant schools earmarked to go international

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2012, 12:00am

Four vacant schools are being offered for bids as potential sites for international schools.

The move is part of a raft of government measures to boost the number of school places in the city.

The Education Bureau says the sites - two in Kowloon and two on Hong Kong Island - are open to applications from all non-profit-making international-school operators over the next two months.

The deadline for bids is on August 27.

The biggest and newest among the sites is the 11-year-old former premises of Cheng Jack Yiu School in Stanley. It has 30 classrooms and six special-purpose rooms covering 4,730 square metres.

The smallest is the 43-year-old Yan Kow School in Choi Hung, at 1,679 square metres.

The two other sites are St Mark's School in Shau Kei Wan - the oldest site at 56 years old - and Sing Yin Secondary School in Lam Tin.

'Subject to the responses received, we will finalise the list of vacant school premises to be made available,' a spokesman for the bureau said.

'And those who have expressed interest will be invited to submit detailed proposals under an open and competitive bidding process.

'The responses are the first step in ascertaining the development needs of the international school sector and its interest in the premises,' he said.

The government's latest move is in response to reports that the lack of international school places has made Hong Kong a less-preferred destination for expatriates looking to relocate.

Last year, almost 5,000 children were on the waiting list for English Schools Foundation (ESF) primary schools, with a further 1,200 for secondary schools, according to media reports.

Bidders for the vacant sites are required to assess the potential demand for their curriculum and how it would meet the needs of their target students.

Those applying for the spaces must also be prepared to fully finance school operations and fund any renovation work. The bureau said the government could be expected to charge nominal rent to winning bidders.

A spokesman for the ESF yesterday said the foundation was not prepared to make comments on the plan at this stage.

There are 47 international schools in the city, providing about 37,000 places - including around 20,000 primary and 17,000 secondary school places.

Aside from offering school sites, the government also encourages expanding existing international-school campuses, allocating greenfield sites where schools can be built and providing interest-free loans to non-profit-making operators for the construction of schools.