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Hong Kong schools

Troubled Hong Kong ‘phantom pupils’ school sees 24 per cent drop in Primary One enrolment

Only 85 children, down from the 112 seats allocated before roster scandal

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 September, 2017, 9:14pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 September, 2017, 10:09pm

A troubled Hong Kong school that grabbed headlines for exaggerating its enrolment, saw its actual Primary One intake plunge by 24 per cent compared with the number it was originally allocated.

Four pupils on Hing Tak School’s overall student roster could not be contacted, while 27 said they would transfer out but had yet to submit official requests to do so.

But the Tuen Mun school dismissed concerns about “phantom pupils” on the roster who do not actually attend classes, saying it had notified the Education Bureau about the children.

The revelation came on Friday as bureau staff visited selected schools, including Hing Tak, to check whether the number of pupils tallied with student rosters.

The school’s former principal, Chan Cheung-ping, was sacked for mismanagement two weeks before the first day of the new academic year. Teachers claimed there were 21 “phantom pupils” who were absent for up to two years between 2014 and last year but were kept on the student roll.

Chan’s successor, Yvonne Siu Lai-shan, said the school currently had 85 Primary One pupils, which was significantly down from the 112 it was originally allocated in June.

Acting principal of troubled Tuen Mun school seeks to reassure parents ahead of new academic year

Of the 85, three were on sick leave. Siu noted the school technically had two more Primary One pupils, but since they could not be contacted, it reported their cases to the bureau and did not count them.

The principal added that the number of pupils was still enough to open four classes. The bureau allocates some resources based on the number of classes. The minimum number for four classes is 76.

We have to single them out and refer the cases to the bureau
Yvonne Siu Lai-shan, Hing Tak School principal

“Originally we intended to have four classes too, but they would have been fully filled,” she said.

Across six levels, the school now has 582 pupils, with 16 on sick leave.

While there are 31 more pupils than the 582 on the roster, Siu noted the school did not count them as its pupils as 27 of them indicated they were transferring but had not submitted documents, while four could not be contacted.

“By rights, they are still our pupils as they have not submitted an official transfer request, but today is the deadline [for the bureau to count heads], so we have to single them out and refer the cases to the bureau,” she said.

A bureau spokesman said it inspected more schools this year than in the past, with 15 to 25 per cent of public schools covered. He added preliminary information showed schools fulfilling bureau arrangements in terms of submitted pupil information.

The spokesman added it would carefully analyse the information and follow up if necessary. It asked schools to update the bureau on absent pupils by next Friday.