Elite Hong Kong girls' school 'forced' pupils to buy anniversary book

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 March, 2013, 12:16pm

An elite girls' school in Mount Davis has been accused of forcing its pupils to buy a commemorative book and "bullying" those who refused to do so.

St Clare's Girls' School sent out a circular in February asking parents to sign cheques for a HK$85 book to celebrate the school's 85 years of history, but there was no place for parents to reject the offer.

Pupils who chose not to purchase it were asked to contact their class teachers.

After hearing complaints from parents, a school official said it was only a matter of miscommunications, and the children might have been "distorting the messages" conveyed by the school.

One concerned parent told the South China Morning Post: "The demand notice handed out to students does not allow 'No' for an answer and we need to explain our 'specific reasons'."

"The follow-ups for a 'No' include daily pestering and pressuring my daughter into buying [it]. Numerous times the children who did not buy were singled out," the parent said. It was "annoying" for the school to squeeze money out of children's pockets for financial concerns.

Vice-principal Cheung Ngai-hung said he did not understand why pupils who chose not to buy the book would be in trouble.

"It's not that expensive … it is only published every five years," Cheung said, and denied the school was under any financial pressure to sell the 200-page book, which includes class photos and words from Lucia Lau Fung-yi, the principal.

He said many pupils had indicated they would not buy it.

"The children may have distorted the meaning … it would be good if parents called up and asked directly," he said.

Cheung said it would have been better if parents who were concerned made formal complaints against the scheme or teachers who they thought handled the matter inappropriately.

The school would subsidise or give out books to those who could not afford them, he said.