No time to scrimp

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 February, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 February, 2001, 12:00am

If Hong Kong is to remain competitive with its Asian neighbours, the SAR Government will have to allocate greater resources to education.

Although the annual budget seems to contain an ample sum for education, our annual expenditure on this vital area is a small proportion of our GDP compared with countries with similar advantages. In this way, we are short-changing our children's future and Hong Kong's long-term prosperity.

For decades, most primary schools had half-day sessions. Pupils were rushed to and from school and deprived of normal activities to save on school building maintenance. Now, fortunately, this misguided policy has been rectified and there is a stated policy of moving towards whole-day schooling for all primary schools by 2007.

The Education Department must compete with other services for suitable sites for new schools, but as we know all too well, the department does not figure very highly on the totem pole of government priorities because it spends revenue instead of creating it.

This means commercial interests and powerful developers will most likely get the best sites in any re-development or reclamation project.

It is essential, then, that parents, teachers, educational bodies and district officials put suitable pressure on planning officials to ensure sufficient new school sites are allocated to their districts.

The SAR Government and education officials should move ahead with whole-day schooling efficiently and with proper regard for the needs of the existing schools, parents and pupils of each district.