Schools plan private Primary One

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 July, 2008, 12:00am

Two primary schools that have been ordered to cease Primary One classes due to a shortfall in the number of children in the latest intakes are planning to run classes on private funds in a last-ditch effort to stay open.

The Education Bureau ordered Po Yan Catholic Primary School and Bishop Ford Memorial School, both in Wong Tai Sin, to end Primary One classes after failing to secure enough new pupils during admissions in November last year and February this year.

Under the school consolidation policy, a primary school must secure at least 21 students to open a class. Appeals by the two schools against the bureau's decision failed.

Wong Chun-chung, principal of the Po Yan Catholic Primary School, said yesterday the school now had to raise funds to open a Primary One class on its own from September to continue operating.

A school applying to open a private class must raise about HK$2.4 million, which includes an estimated HK$800,000 for a year's running costs plus a surety equivalent to another two years' operating costs.

Mr Wong, who is retiring in September, said a fund-raising campaign had begun.

The 43-year-old school in Tung Tau Estate was saved from the wrecker's ball in January after it was excluded from plans that saw old housing blocks on the estate demolished.

'It is very possible some parents who originally intended to send their children here changed their mind because of the demolition plan,' Mr Wong said.

Sham Yin-kuk, principal of Bishop Ford Memorial School, said the school had secured enough funds to run a Primary One class on its own.

The school underwent an inspection early last month and failed to impress officials.

'We launched a fund-raising campaign shortly after being told about the appeal result [in mid-June]. We are glad that our alumni association and parents-and-teachers' association gave us great support, and as a result we secured more than HK$2 million within a week,' Ms Sham said. Her school would submit proposals to the Education Bureau within days.

Nine schools have been ordered to cease Primary One classes in September due to insufficient numbers of new students.

Of the nine, three have succeeded in their appeals against the orders - two schools were allowed to hold privately funded classes and a third was allowed to continue admitting students through the government's central-allocation system, with the next intake early next year.