The Education Department should take firm action against a father who has refused to allow his 10-year-old daughter to attend school for nearly two years, a legislator has said. Democrat lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong, who represents the education constituency, made the remarks after Leung Chi-kwong, 59, refused a department request to report on the progress of his daughter Dearing's home schooling. Mr Cheung said: 'It's high time the department sent a clear signal to Mr Leung that he must let Dearing receive a formal education.' He said the department should consider alternatives such as hiring tutors for her if Mr Leung continued to defy it. Home-schooling is banned under the Education Ordinance and parents risk imprisonment for failing to send children aged six to 15 to school. In its letter to Mr Leung last Thursday, the department asked for a progress report and said: 'We fully understand your choice to teach Dearing at home but we hope she can receive a more balanced and all-round education.' However, a defiant Mr Leung brought Dearing into the South China Morning Post's offices last week and attacked the department for implying that his home-schooling was not balanced. 'I am adamant that teaching Dearing by myself is much better than placing her at school, where 40 pupils are crowded in a classroom,' said Mr Leung, who has had no formal education. 'Schools in Hong Kong are tantamount to prisons. I have urged the department officials to close Dearing's file and stop harassing us.' Four attempts by the Education Department to see the family at their home in Tai Po in October and November failed. Dearing said sometimes they had refused to answer the door. Mr Leung did agree to send Dearing to classes at the department's regional education office in Sheung Shui this year. 'But after several lessons, we felt we were being cheated by the department,' he said. 'We found that her classmates there were either academic low-achievers or mentally retarded.' Mr Leung pulled Dearing out of Sham Shui Association School in Tai Po in February last year on the grounds that she would not be stretched by the school's teaching methods. The Education Department has offered Dearing student counselling. A department spokesman said it would not comment on individual cases and would not say whether it would issue Mr Leung an attendance order requiring him to send the child back to school in two weeks. Mr Cheung said Mr Leung should tell the department how Dearing was faring and let it decide whether home-schooling was a feasible option.