Officials forget to buy books for libraries

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 October, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 October, 1997, 12:00am

The Education Department has spent two years building libraries and reading rooms in 100 schools across the SAR - but has forgotten to buy the books.

The department said the embarrassing oversight was the result of misunderstandings between different sections.

It will now ask the Government for about $15 million to help schools fill the shelves.

Libraries were not compulsory in primary schools until recently, when the department began promoting reading to boost students' language standards.

About 100 schools have been provided with libraries over the past two years.

But Tang Mei-sin, head of Baptist Lui Ming Choi Primary School in Sha Tin, complained that students were yet to borrow a book from their library which was completed in June.

'Students and teachers were happy to have the grand new library about the size of two standard classrooms,' Ms Tang said.

'But then we found out the Government had only reserved $300,000 for us to buy shelves, chairs and tables, but no money for books. Is a library still a library when it doesn't have books?' Education officer Yeung King-fai admitted there had been a misunderstanding.

'We originally planned that schools could move the books they had on shelves in their classrooms to the new libraries.

'But later our library section colleagues told us classes' and libraries' books should be kept separate.

'We are now going to seek the money for books. We estimate each school needs an average of $150,000.' Mr Yeung said in the meantime schools could apply to use anything left over from their furniture allocation to buy books.

The Government has pledged to raise students' language standards, with one of the measures the cultivation of a reading habit in them.

More than $100 million will be spent in the next four years to extend Chinese and English reading schemes to all levels of schooling.