Parents are to be given the chance to send their children to private schools, built on government land, offering modern facilities and a broad curriculum. For the first time, two sites - in Diamond Hill and Sha Tin - will be granted at a nominal premium for the setting up of private primary or secondary schools, mainly for local children. Secretary for Education and Manpower Joseph Wong Wing-ping said successful applicants could enjoy about $100 million in allowances. 'It was proposed earlier the Government should offer interest-free loans,' Mr Wong said. 'But after consultation we decided to offer grants. We hope this will attract high-quality operators. Also, there should be less pressure for the operators to charge high school fees to generate income to repay the loan.' Unveiling the new scheme yesterday, Mr Wong said the aim was to let children enjoy more choice of schooling. 'We hope to introduce a new culture in the education sector. Operators will be free to set their policy as long as they work according to a 10-year service agreement to be signed with the Education Department.' Under the pilot scheme, operators will be free to design their schools, and set curriculum and tuition fees. To ensure students will not be deprived of the chance to enter the schools because of financial difficulty, the operators will be required to offer appropriate scholarships. The schools must also ensure at least 70 per cent of the student population is made up of local children. Interested organisations should submit their proposals before June 15. Results will be announced in mid-August and the sites should be granted next year. Po Leung Kuk's education spokesman Mak Kwai-po welcomed the scheme and said it would soon submit its proposal for setting up a primary-cum-secondary English medium school, with tuition fees at $4,000 a month. Mr Mak said the scheme would offer parents more choices of schools and push existing schools to strive for quality education. But he said the sites, about 5,000 to 6,000 square metres, might be too small. Legislator and president of the Professional Teachers Union, Cheung Man-kwong, urged the Government to invest more in subsidised schools as well. He said it would be too narrow-minded if it aimed only at private schools. Mr Wong said two government-built premises would also be allocated for operation as non-profit making secondary schools under the Direct Subsidy Scheme as a trial.