• Mon
  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 10:28pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 June, 2014, 2:44am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 June, 2014, 2:44am

How the bureaucrats are failing our good home-grown schools

Our city has perfectly good schools, which sometimes fall on hard times because of greedy landlords and government bureaucrats. You want to know why our education system is going down the drain; it's because of these people.

Take the half-century-old St Margaret's Girls' College on Caine Road in Mid-Levels. I used to live nearby and have always marvelled at how well-mannered its pupils are, their language skills and the easy way in which the Chinese and non-Chinese students mix and befriend each other. Whoever runs this direct-subsidy school which has a high proportion of ethnic-minority students has been doing a good job. It has been described as a "low-cost" international school. But it is facing closure, thanks to a doubling of the rent, and the intransigence of education bureaucrats like Kevin Yeung Yun-hung. I grant you that it's a free market. But I would like to know how the landlord sleeps at night knowing the education of some 400 secondary school students is being jeopardised just so you can make an extra buck.

Meanwhile, Yeung's Education Bureau has assigned a temporary campus to the school, all the way in Sha Tin, but only on condition that it won't accept new students.

Does Mr Yeung happen to be known as the King of Mean? His bureau also refuses to help them find a permanent campus, saying the school should wait till the next batch of available sites. Where? On Mars? Really, this allocation system is for schools that have plenty of time to work through your bureaucracy, but this is clearly an emergency.

This is the same bureau that claims it's doing all it can to help create more international schools. Yet it's content to see this multi-ethnic school go down. But I get it - it's not full of white folks and rich mainlanders, so it's not exactly international now, is it?

This is a repeat of the not-my-problem way in which it deals with the International Montessori School, a decent home-grown international school that, after more than a decade, still has trouble securing a permanent home for its students in Tin Hau, despite being assigned a campus site in Stanley.

Run by overpaid bureaucrats, the government prefers to subsidise big-ticket schools like the Harrow for the rich and connected.

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This article is now closed to comments

DinGao
This is, indeed, very sad but what would be done if this were to happen anywhere else in the world?
It is, after all, a private school in a private building.
Is the taxpayer expected to bail out all institutions victimised by greedy landlords?
This landlord should, of course, be outed and named and shamed.
How about it SCMP?
ntmount
Good article. The Edb should be ashamed of itself, again. It's hard to imagine how St. Margaret's could be treated like that.
DinGao-it is not private but Direct Subsidy.
pragmatist
You are my hero, Alex. Please write more such articles and we hope that these govt serbamts will respond and start to serve the people.
btw, free market fundamentalism is a short-hand in HK for government laziness in addressing the core social issues. Free market is a shield for lazy govt.
Dao-Phooy
Good article. Always billions available for these vanity projects which are in reality white concrete elephants! And which schools did the children of the Secretary and principal officers of the Education Bureau attend? It is all dollars and real estate to them - nothing to do with education whatsoever as they are so cushioned from reality they can't conceive that finding extra money for school fees is a real hardship for a majority of parents.
rpasea
In 1789, the French had an excellent method to deal with govt. elites who lost touch with the common man.
atathk
Great article shows a shame for Hong Kong. Education and children are the core values of all developed admired societies. Where does this place Hong Kong ?
kctony
ZERO. This is the number of the children of the HK Education Bureau senior officers attending local secondary schools. That was back in 1998.
This applies to the majority of the senior Government officials too. Tam Yiu-chung was adamant that National Education is important to HK students. He was dead quiet when asked in Legco why then he sent all his children & grand-children to Australia. Is there any shame in such hypocrisy?
The US-bashers in HK happen to be very proud of their Ivy League & Stanford children. Oh well, the daughter of our own President goes to Harvard. What can I say?
Try to chat with the 30 something at IFC Starbucks and you will be astonished by these separate class of young holding high paying jobs in nice offices. They didn't go to local secondary schools. Small sample but real.
Bureau Chief Eddis Ng bloated about HK's performance internationally in a lunch in April but turned a blind eye to the price of that vanity. HK has always done well in this regard but why do the business sector is still complaining?
Conspiracy theory would say the HK education system is designed for the majority to fail so the privileged few would own the others' a**. Just go to IFC and have a few chats with these youngs.
pragmatist
Yes who is the landlord. In free market, we have a right to know. Isnt it?
johnyuan
‘Meanwhile, Yeung's Education Bureau has assigned a temporary campus to the school, all the way in Sha Tin, but only on condition that it won't accept new students.’

It is obvious to me that St. Margret is being sent to a hospice to live out what remains of the current student body and staff. This is counter to the intrinsic value of education and especially to a successful school.
.
AL is too polite not clubbing on the Education Chief. The government I really believe deems the minority students having a successful education in Hong Kong is a real problem. Such perspective is deep rooted in Hong Kong’s colonial time and now it is furthered by China’s national politics.
.
Running a school for minority under a religious banner is the last straw.
chuchu59
You mean a tool that begins with the letter 'g'?

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