School asks for more time to attract pupils

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 August, 2005, 12:00am

A school facing closure after being ordered to cease Primary One classes because of under-enrolment argued in court yesterday that it should be allowed more time to establish itself.

HKCCGA Cheng Jack Yiu School in Stanley is one of 22 schools that failed to recruit the minimum 23 pupils, as required by the Education and Manpower Bureau.

But John Scott SC, representing the school, said the decision was 'unfair and unreasonable' as the five-year-old school had not been given time to attract more students.

'We are not saying the school should continue to operate for an indefinite future, but it should be long enough for the school to prove itself in the competition with other schools in the school net ... say at least six years in order to provide evidence of its ability,' he said.

The lawyer said the school had been put in an unfavourable position after the merger of school nets - or districts - since last year, which increased the number of schools available for parents to select for their children from three to 15.

He added that demographic changes in the area had made it difficult for the school to attract pupils. Mr Scott also accused the Education Bureau of failing to allow the school to explain its operation before making the decision.

But Benjamin Yu SC, who represented the bureau, argued that public resources would be underused if the school were allowed to continue its Primary One class. Mr Yu said the school had the facilities for 30 classes but it had attracted only one class at each grade.

'This school has a very good competitive edge in term of the hardware of a millennium school. But it does not produce a good result in terms of both academic results and the ability to attract students. For the parents' choice index, it is at very bottom in the net,' he said.

Bureau statistics show the number of Primary One students in the 2005-06 school year will decline by about 3,000 from the last school year. A 2002 report by the Director of Audit urged the government to avoid surplus school places.

Mr Justice Anselmo Reyes adjourned his ruling until next Friday.