A shortage of flagpoles means the national flag will not fly at many schools for the first handover anniversary, despite a government appeal. Schools are keen to raise the flag in response to the Education Department's calls 'to enhance students' understanding of China and strengthen awareness of their national identity'. More than half of government-subsidised schools - 262 secondary, 366 primary and 29 special schools - have applied to the department for a total of 1,408 flagpoles. A department spokesman said costs were uncertain because staff had to find out what sort of flagpoles were needed and how they should be installed. Flagpoles can be erected in playgrounds, on school rooftops or on the walls of school halls. 'We will seek money to help schools install the poles. But since it will take some time before we can secure the money, the poles may not be installed this year,' the spokesman said. The department last month issued a memo encouraging schools to fly or display the national flag, especially on important occasions. These include SAR Establishment Day on July 1, National Day on October 1, New Year's Day, the first day of the school year, school open days and graduation ceremonies. Federation of Education Workers' supervisor Yu Siu-cheung said about 50 schools, through the federation, had sought help from a mainland factory to install flagpoles. 'The Guangzhou factory has promised to produce and install flagpoles for Hong Kong schools,' Mr Yu said. 'Its costs, around $20,000, will be cheaper than Hong Kong's. But time is running out and many schools may not have the poles on July 1.' Meanwhile, Education Department inspector of schools John So Chun-hok said 85 applications for cash had arrived from schools planning activities to promote the understanding of Chinese culture and history. The response to this new scheme was so encouraging the department said it would have to reject some proposals. It had earmarked $2.3 million, but applicants had sought $3.6 million. A vetting committee will meet today, schools will learn the results on July 7 and the money will be released in August.