Thousands rally for smaller class sizes

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 May, 2005, 12:00am

Thousands of parents and children took to the streets on Mother's Day to demand smaller school classes.

The Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, which organised yesterday's demonstration, estimated that 5,000 people took part, while the police put the figure at 3,500. It was the union's fourth rally to seek smaller class sizes.

The protesters gathered at Chater Garden and Statue Square at 3pm. Most of them chanted slogans and wore yellow ribbons to symbolise their push for reduced class sizes.

Mothers who took part in the protest carried pink carnations handed out by the union.

Union leader Cheung Man-kwong said he was satisfied with the turnout.

'This is really touching - many families have decided to give up their [Mothers' Day] celebrations to come here,' he said.

'It shows that parents care about their children's education more than many things.'

The protesters marched to the Central Government Offices, where they tied their yellow ribbons to the rails surrounding a tree, before leaving peacefully.

The union delivered a letter and a bouquet of pink carnations for acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, which were accepted by a police officer.

Among the protesters was Lau Wai-ming, who was with his daughter Wing-ting, who is in Primary Three. He said he was angry at the government for not doing anything to reduce class sizes.

'They could've done it, but they're obviously unwilling to,' he said. 'Right now, large class sizes might be causing problems with my daughter's learning, but I won't know that until it's too late.'

Mr Cheung said the union planned a newspaper advertising campaign on Father's Day to further raise awareness. Concerned fathers had been asked to donate $10 to the cause.

Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, permanent secretary for education and manpower, said government spending on education had increased, despite falling student numbers. Writing on the bureau's website, she said it was reasonable to cut some classes so money could be deployed more effectively.



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