School heads knock confusion on grants
School principals have complained they are being kept in the dark about why their applications for grants from a multibillion-dollar education fund are being rejected.
They criticised the Quality Education Fund, set up with $5 billion by Tung Chee-hwa in his first Policy Address, for having unclear criteria, and said separate applications for similar projects had been treated differently.
About 520 applications requesting $363 million were approved in the first call for applications early this year.
The biggest allocation of $10 million went to Pui Ching Middle School for its information technology project.
Other projects ranged from study trips to the mainland to the launch of an orchestra.
The second round of applications is due to close at the end of this month.
But some school heads attending the Hong Kong Subsidised Secondary Schools Council general meeting yesterday said they had to think carefully about whether they should apply again.
Sha Tin Tsung Tsin Secondary School headmistress Yip Sau-wah said: 'Many principals still don't know the judging criteria.
'We are puzzled about why our applications were rejected.
'Even similar projects among schools were treated differently. Some were approved and others rejected. What's worse is we were not told why we were rejected.' Other principals complained the allocation was not transparent and they doubted if the judging was fair.
But Irving Koo Yee-yin, chairman of the fund's steering committee, insisted the choices were made fairly and pledged to make the allocation clearer.
'The scheme is still new,' he said.
'We are working while learning. We hope to do better in the second call for applications.
'We will set up two teams, one focusing on vetting applications, the other following up approved projects. Up to 32 staff will be deployed to help the work.' Mr Koo said he understood many approved projects were short-term, school-based activities. He would study how to strike a balance so innovative projects with a more profound effect would be funded.
At yesterday's meeting, Ming Kei College principal Stephen Hui Chin-yim was voted to succeed John Fan Kam-ping as council chairman.