Now hear this. You can't? OK, have an air-conditioner. To those of us who have given up trying to watch TV or listen to music during the summer because we cannot hear anything over the noise of the air-con, the Government's noise abatement policy for schools may seem bizarre. But to legislator Leung Yiu-chung, the schoolteacher who represents the Garment and Textiles constituency, it is merely unfair. Legislative Council question time offers all sorts of rare sociological insights. What pampered office-worker would have guessed, but for Mr Leung's intervention yesterday, that most government schools do not have air-conditioners? Wherever noise levels are so low that you can hear a bead of sweat drop, children are expected to do without. This is true in Japan too, we understand. But there it is a character-building measure. School in Japan is supposed to make a man of you, even if you happen to be a girl. Here in Hong Kong, keeping the windows open just saves money. But as Secretary for Education and Manpower Joseph Wong Wing-ping explained, some schools are special. 'Under the Noise Abatement Programme,' he said, 'the Government has been installing air-conditioners and double-glazed windows in the classrooms, staff rooms and special rooms of public sector schools exposed to aircraft or traffic noise above 65 [decibels].' Mr Leung was not complaining about discrimination against children in quiet districts. Like most Hong Kong people, he probably spent his own schooldays lulled by the swish and whisper of ceiling fans, and sees no harm in sparing the kids a dose of air-con-induced sick building syndrome. Mr Leung was worried about the 25 primary schools which had spent more on air-conditioning than they had been allowed under the noise abatement grant and had been forced to dip into their General Fund to find the extra. Had this affected their other activities? No, it had not, replied Mr Wong. Lots of schools had managed without overspending. Frankly, there was plenty of other government money for normal activities. If they wanted to dip into their privately raised General Funds to splurge on 'above-standard items' that was their lookout. Wasn't this unfair, asked Mr Leung? And had the Government looked for a better solution? Mr Wong might have said 'no' again. The noise abatement money was carefully calculated to meet costs. Of the 179 public sector schools which qualified for grants, 143 had stayed well within budget. So yah, boo, sucks to the rest. They could always try cooling the kids instead of freezing them. Instead, he was polite and said he appreciated Mr Leung's concern. But as it happened, a review of the grant was under way. Until then, Mr Leung should chill out.