Lantau rehab school freezes intake because premises are at double capacity

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 August, 2009, 12:00am

A Lantau drug rehabilitation school - waiting to learn if it can move into new premises and with its finances under graft-busters' scrutiny - has stopped accepting new students because its overloaded buildings are already at double their capacity.

The principal of Christian Zheng Sheng College said yesterday the school had turned away at least 10 students for the new school year because it had already admitted 130.

'We could not take in more students even though we want to help more troubled teens, as the school campus is too crowded,' Alman Chan Siu-cheuk said. 'We don't have enough space.'

Speaking to reporters after giving a talk on drug problems in schools at the American Chamber of Commerce, Mr Chan said the overcrowding persisted even after 'a couple of dozen' students had been moved from the school's Ha Keng campus to a branch on Cheung Chau.

Meanwhile, the school - embroiled in a row with Mui Wo residents over plans to move into a disused school there - is pressing ahead with teacher recruitment to open up more subjects under the new 3+3+4 curriculum that takes effect this year.

'We have to hire 10 to 20 more teachers,' Mr Chan said, adding that more vocational skills courses would be introduced. 'A licensed carpenter from Canada will come to our school to teach carpentry next month for example,' he said. 'I will look for teachers who not only can teach but who also have studied and have experience in counselling.'

The school has 12 teachers with degrees or master's degrees and four vocational skills instructors with diploma certificates.

The campaign director of the group Unison Hong Kong for Ethnic Equality, Fermi Wong Wai-fun, who has been helping drug users for years, said the suspension would have a big impact on those who wanted to continue their studies.

'The college is the only private drug rehabilitation school and no other centres can provide services like the school,' she said. 'One of my clients wants to study there after appearing in court for a drug crime next Monday. Now I don't know what to do.' The suspension would particularly affect ethnic minorities.

The accounts of the school and its operating body, the Christian Zheng Sheng Association, are under scrutiny by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.