Secondary school principals have agreed to the government's approach on downsizing classes in the next few years, as schools face a projected drop in Form One entrants.
After a five-hour meeting with Education Secretary Eddie Ng Hak-kim, the principals' alliance, according to Ng, consented to its "2.1.1." and "1.1.1" options, which refer to the number of places to be cut from each Form One class over three years
The plan, which Ng called a transitional solution, is expected to be implemented next year.
In the first option two places will be shaved in the first year, followed by one place in succeeding years. Educators want the government to downsize classes to avoid laying off teachers.
Liu Ah-chuen, the alliance's convenor, denied that the group's decision was made under pressure, particularly with the looming shortfall of students. Admissions are expected to drop by 11,000 in the next few years, before rebounding in 2017.
"With the consideration that the Form One entrants allocation must be started as soon as possible to ease some parents' worries, the alliance adopted the government's plan," Liu said.
However, the alliance, which represents all 18 districts of Hong Kong, still had doubts over whether the government's measures would be effective. Principals have proposed a "3.2.1." scheme instead.
"The bureau has also promised to review a basket of measures to see if they are effective and we will study what to do next if the measure does not work well," Liu said.
But yesterday's consensus was rejected by the education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen, of the Professional Teachers' Union. "There is no reason [why] the bureau did not include frontline teachers in their talk. The deal will bring upheaval to the education sector," Ip said.