Hong Kong school heads throw the book at Education Bureau’s ending of reading grants

Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools wants the ­government to reinstate Chinese and English extensive reading scheme grants, which were recently ended

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 September, 2016, 9:57pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 September, 2016, 10:44pm

The decision to end a school ­reading grants scheme has been slammed by a group representing secondary school head teachers.

The Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools wants the ­government to reinstate the ­Chinese and English extensive reading scheme grants, which were recently ended.

The subsidies were used by both primary and secondary schools to buy books and multimedia reading materials.

Lee Suet-ying, chairman of the association and principal of Ho Yu College and Primary School, said reading was important for the education and growth of ­students.

“We hope the Education Bureau will withdraw this ­decision and reinstate the funds to schools,” Lee said.

A bureau spokesman said grants were withdrawn because reading habits and methods of fostering reading had changed with the use of online resources.

The association criticised the government for a lack of consultation, with those affected only ­finding out at the start of the school year this month.

“The decision took effect ­immediately and we were not even ­informed. We just discovered it through a footnote in a guide early this month,” Lee said.

“We are shocked to learn that such an important decision has been made without due consultation of schools and the general public ... the grants have been given to schools since the 90s.”

How Hong Kong parents can help their kids become more interested in reading

However, the bureau spokesman said both primary and secondary schools were consulted.

He also said there were other public funds that could be used to buy books. Primary schools with 12 or fewer classes used to receive HK$4,149 a year, and those with more than 12 given HK$8,300.

Secondary schools ­received HK$17,234 a year.

Lee criticised the message the decision sent to the community.

“This might indicate the ­bureau does not support reading ... It’s a very short-sighted measure,” she said.

Alan Cheung Chi-keung, professor at the department of ­educational administration and policy at Chinese University, said “many governments are putting a lot of effort into promoting ­reading habits ... but the Hong Kong government seems to be ­doing the opposite”.