Montessori school parents to lobby government for help

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 January, 2014, 4:18am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 January, 2014, 4:18am

Parents of pupils at a Tin Hau international primary school have launched a petition calling on the government to help the school secure the renewal of a lease for its campus, which has less than half a year to run.

"We've been waiting for the Education Bureau to take action and bring the parties to the table," said Yip King-sze, chairwoman of the parents' concern group set up to support the International Montessori School's development on the Tin Hau site.

"But no concrete help has been given. [The bureau] keeps saying it supports our school's development, but it all seems to be empty promises."

Hundreds of concerned parents gathered at the school yesterday evening for a closed-door meeting with the school management to discuss what action they could take in the coming months to keep their school running.

They have launched a Facebook page together with a petition campaign "Save IMS Tin Hau School from closure" to gauge support from the public and urge Education Secretary Eddie Ng Hak-kim to get involved in the lease renewal negotiation.

Yip said they hoped to get at least 10,000 signatures during the Lunar New Year holidays requesting the government help get them a long-term lease.

The school moved into the campus three years ago and took out a lease with the Hong Kong Construction Association that expires in July. A South China Morning Post report in November found the school had started talks with the association, but progress in negotiation was slow.

Yip said it was "completely unacceptable" that no progress had been made. "I don't understand why the association has not said yes to renewing the lease," she said. "Why would you kick out an existing school?"

The school's co-founders Karin Ann and Anne Sawyer said the school and the community were "extremely concerned because the future education of 350 children is at stake". "The intervention of the government is critical because the school is on government land and time is running out," they said.

A Construction Association spokesman said it was still talking to the school.

An Education Bureau spokeswoman said the school site "is private land owned by the association" and its tenancy was a private agreement with terms determined by the landlord.

She said the bureau had reflected the school's concern to the association and asked the latter to "ensure early notice and allow sufficient time ... to factor in the relocation of the school in their pursuit of any future plans on the development of the Tin Hau site in an orderly manner".