Parents petition government as minister refuses meetings over loss of kindergarten's premises
Parents granted an audience over preschool that faces closure, but it does little to reassure them
Johnny Tam and Shirley Zhao
Parents of pupils at a Tin Shui Wai kindergarten facing closure were left "disappointed" after a surprise meeting with the education minister yesterday.
Dozens of concerned Topkids parents were granted an audience with Eddie Ng Hak-kim for about half an hour at the Education Bureau's New Territories West regional education office after they petitioned outside the government headquarters.
But despite the apparent breakthrough - their request for a meeting has been refused twice before - parents said the meeting was fruitless as Ng did not guarantee anything that would keep the preschool running after the end of the school year.
The preschool must leave its current premises at Sherwood Court, Kingswood Villas, after it was outbid for the lease by a rival operator, Zenith International Education Foundation.
"The only answer that Ng gave us was that he and his bureau were both unable to help," said Kary Lo, a parent representative.
"No one knew Ng would meet us until he stepped into the meeting room out of the blue but we're disappointed that the only thing that he offered us was vacant places at other kindergartens in the district."
Ng entered and left the meeting room through the back door of the centre. Reporters waiting outside were not made aware he was talking to parents.
Parents quoted Ng as saying that former CCC Fong Yun-wah Primary School campus in Tin Yiu Estate was not an option to relocate Topkids as the site had already been allocated for primary education and was no longer under the bureau's control.
In a press release issued last night, Ng said: "I have requested our staff to render full support to the affected students and their parents, and take good care of the children's educational needs in the upcoming academic year.
"I have earlier shared our support services with the chairman of the Yuen Long District Council, Leung Che-cheung, and other legislators who expressed concern over the incident.
"The bureau has been in liaison with the kindergartens in Yuen Long, calling on them to decide on their class structure for the next academic year and update their vacancy information as soon as possible.
"The bureau is also gauging their views on the setting up of an online platform for disseminating vacancy information to parents in due course.
"If a consensus can be reached, parents will be informed accordingly," Ng added.