Education should always be treated as a human investment

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 June, 2014, 4:51am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 June, 2014, 4:51am

First there was the problem of the Topkids kindergarten in Tin Shui Wai failing to secure a lease renewal from its landlord. Now we read about the 49-year old Direct Subsidy Scheme school St Margaret's Girls' College ("Rising rent could spell closure for school", June 2) moving out of its original commercial premises on Caine Road, Sheung Wan, because of a steep rent increase after this academic year.

It should be reiterated that education is a human investment and should never be treated as similar to running a business, not by the Education Bureau, the property developers nor the schools. The social ethics of the public should be a high priority.

The bureau has done a good job in the case of this school. It has given St Margaret's permission to make temporary use of Sung Lan Middle School in Sha Tin (which closed in 2012), at a nominal rent until 2019. However, surely it would be beneficial to society if the bureau approved a longer tenure for the school, given that its sponsoring body is a non-profit-making charitable organisation.

According to a report last year in the Chinese-language press, this summer, five more secondary schools will cease to operate as a result of insufficient student intake. There are still many non-profit-making schools in the urban area located in commercial complexes. With tourist numbers likely to continue to rise, with an estimated 70 million visitors in 2017, more businesses will want to use commercial complexes. Consequently, more schools will be forced to relocate.

The bureau's School Allocation Committee should take a more proactive role. It should simplify the school allocation scheme to set more reasonable requirements and criteria for school applicants. Whenever vacant school premises are available, they should be allotted to the appropriate users to maximise the social efficiency of the economy.

Dr Raymond Tam, principal, G. T. (Ellen Yeung) College