Two-year deferment makes little difference, say sponsoring bodies The government's hopes of appeasing critics of its education reform proposals by pushing back by two years the deadline for implementing school-based management were dashed yesterday. Legislators said that the concession did not address the underlying conflict between the education bureau and school-sponsoring bodies. They were speaking as the Legislative Council's Bills Committee held its last meeting to consider the Education (Amendment) Bill 2002 before it is tabled to the full council for its second reading next month. The bill would put the day-to-day management of all aided schools into the hands of new incorporated management committees (IMCs) that would include elected teacher and parent representatives as well as alumni and community figures. Currently schools are managed by supervisors who are not allowed to work with school management committees appointed by school-sponsoring bodies. While sponsoring bodies would have majority power on the committee and an overseeing role, the IMC, not the sponsor, would be answerable to government for the running of the school. Cheng Man-yiu, the Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower, said the government was prepared to enforce the bill's provisions in 2012, instead of 2010. But Timothy Ha Wing-ho, education secretary of the Anglican school-sponsoring body Sheng Kung Hui, and chairman of the HK Association of Sponsoring Bodies of Schools, said the two-year delay made little difference. 'What we are opposing is imposing the same school-management model on all schools without any alternatives,' Mr Ha said. 'We also find it unacceptable that the permanent secretary for education and manpower has the right to disqualify existing school board members and set up a [management committee] with their own people, appointed by the secretary and responsible for carrying out her instructions.' He said the Sheng Kung Hui would not set up such committees even if the bill was passed. Reverend Eric So Shing-yit, general secretary of the Hong Kong Christian Council, said: 'Schools have the right to decide their own management models.' Cheung Kwok-wah, chairman of the Home-school Co-operation Committee, which supports the government's bill, said: 'We don't mind the two-year delay as long as elected parent representatives can sit on the school board.' Democratic Party legislator Cheung Man-kwong, who represents the education functional constituency, said the government should have amended the bill to allow for further delay in implementation beyond 2012 if results of a review of the school reforms in 2008 proved unsatisfactory. Emily Lau Wai-hing, leader of The Frontier, said its members would not vote for the bill unless the government agreed to a further delay in implementation. 'We agree with the principle of the bill that all stakeholders should participate in school management, but no government should force through a law which is so strongly opposed by the public,' she said. The Liberal Party's Tommy Cheung Yu-yan and Yeung Yiu-chung of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong supported the bill.