Decision leads to another scramble for school places

Tens of thousands of Fifth Formers face the ordeal of a frantic scramble for places after the Education Department dropped a proposal to extend central allocation.

The department has reviewed last year's procedure and decided to keep the Form Six admission, despite calls for the extension of central allocation to avert more chaos.

Schools were told that admission would still be in five stages and central allocation would only be conducted in the final stage of the procedure.

Public concern over Form Six allocation was sparked after thousands of students, who failed to enter their own schools' Form Six, flocked to others to try their luck following the release of HKCEE results in August last year. The rush for places degenerated into chaos at Po Leung Kuk Vicwood K. T. Chong Sixth Form College in Tai Kok Tsui where applicants started jostling for the 360 places from about 8am.

Police Tactical Unit officers were called in as about 1,000 students and parents swamped the college.

Police had to seal off a section of the street and traffic was diverted.

The fierce competition prompted the department to review the procedure and some academics and parents called for the extension of central allocation to avoid further chaos.

But senior education officer Tsui Chi-wing said yesterday the department had examined various options and concluded the existing procedure was the most effective. Mr Tsui said: 'We have studied options such as introducing central allocation earlier, say after the first stage of the admission procedure.

'But this will create problems to schools which want greater say in admitting students.

'We believe schools should be allowed to interview students and admit the students they want, while students should be allowed to choose which schools they wish to join.' He said the department would reinforce assistance to teachers and students.

Videotapes explaining the procedures would be delivered and seminars would be held next month.

The tentative date of release of this year's results is August 10.