Wah Yan College drops out of class reduction scheme
Elite school Wah Yan College has pulled out of the government's class-cutting scheme after wealthy alumni threatened to cut donations.
The participation of another elite school, King's College, is also in doubt as alumni representatives on the school board threaten to launch a judicial review of the decision which they say has been imposed on the school without their consent.
Education officials said 200 schools had joined the voluntary class reduction scheme and would cut their classes in September.
The scheme aims to share the load of falling rolls by encouraging schools to reduce the number of their Form One classes from five to four so that pupils originally assigned to schools running five classes can go to those suffering from insufficient enrolment. The Education Bureau has offered an extra annual subsidy of HK$250,000 for five years to participating schools.
Wah Yan College joined the scheme in February, pledging to cut its Form One intake to 144 pupils from 180 in September.
But yesterday, it issued a statement announcing its withdrawal. 'We are grateful for the opportunity to participate. However, we have decided to withdraw from the scheme,' it said.
Monty Fong Wing-hong, the chief executive of the Wah Yan One Family Foundation and a member of the alumni association, said they became aware of opposition from alumni at a forum in February.
'The foundation has reserves of HK$8.5 million. There are alumni who said that if the school doesn't join the scheme, they will donate more money to the school. The reason for joining the scheme is insufficient resources [such as the shortage of classrooms to accommodate all the pupils].
'If the school withdraws from the scheme, the alumni are willing to provide the resources to carry out all kinds of projects like the introduction of small-class teaching.'
Cheng Man-yung, a paediatrician who is an alumni representative on the school management committee, said they would discuss the issue with education officials on Monday.
King's College was among the last schools to join the scheme before the application deadline in February.
On February 24, the school management committee had a meeting to discuss the issue. After the meeting, Tam Koon-che, the committee chairman who was appointed by the Education Bureau, said the school would join the scheme. Cheng said the decision was not reached through a vote that night.
'We will consider launching a judicial review as a last resort to get the decision annulled as committee rules about voting were not followed during that meeting,' he said.
The number of schools that have joined the voluntary scheme to cut the intake of Form One pupils: 200