Officials must explain plan to turn schools into hostels

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 October, 2012, 3:53am

I am a parent of two daughters who study at the International Montessori School in Tin Hau and wish to echo the concerns reported in Ada Lee's article "Parents fight to halt school relocation" (October 8).

After the report by the Post in August over the possibility of the school's relocation, the government's youth hostel policy was discussed on TVB Pearl's Money magazine show on September 16 in a report titled "Flats for youth". It was reported that several NGOs were considering turning vacant premises which they owned into youth hostels. To my shock, almost all of the sites mentioned in that report were school campuses, including the one my daughters attend.

The dire lack of international school space in Hong Kong is well known. I fail to understand the logic of turning schools (operating or vacant) into hostels rather than find measures to make sure all existing school sites are fully utilised while finding other suitable locations to build subsidised housing.

Moreover, a school relocation to pave the way for a taxpayer-subsidised residential development is wasteful, not only in terms of the human cost to more than 1,000 students, teachers and parents who have made the school the focus of their lives, but also in terms of the environmental waste in tearing down a fully functioning school building.

The response of the Education Bureau as noted at the end of the article appears to indicate a lack of urgency on the part of government officials. I truly hope this is not the case, because 2014, when the current lease for the Tin Hau campus site expires, is a short time away from the perspective of planning for a child's schooling in Hong Kong.

It is imperative for the Education Bureau and other government departments to make it their utmost priority to provide clarity on the campus situation, and let the school get on with its job of teaching and caring for its students.

Felix Hsu, Tai Po