But education chief says cut in numbers will not necessarily improve standards The Legislative Council passed a motion yesterday calling for small-class teaching in districts with sharp declines in student numbers. Proposed by Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, the motion urges the government to introduce small classes progressively in primary schools and then in secondary schools. As a first step, Primary One classes would be cut to 25 pupils starting next year, from 32 to 37. Secretary for Education and Manpower Arthur Li Kwok-cheung said smaller classes would not necessarily provide better education. 'The size of the kitchen is not related to whether the dishes are delicious,' he said during the meeting. 'Small-class teaching should not be viewed as a panacea. I urge the public to assess the effectiveness of small-class teaching in a pragmatic and scientific way before considering its implementation.' Ms Eu accused Professor Li of adopting double standards. She asked if there were any 'quantified benefits' to support the new 3-3-4 model - three years of junior secondary, three years of senior secondary and four years of university - and the introduction of liberal studies as a core subject. 'Smaller class size is one of the necessary conditions for better education, and the value of education does not only lie in scores but also in the personal growth of students,' she said. Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun said the party supported smaller classes. Fellow Liberal Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee proposed an amendment that the government ensure adequate teacher training before cutting class sizes. But that was overridden by a further amendment by Professional Teachers' Union president Cheung Man-kwong. 'If a teacher can teach a class of 40 pupils well, he will surely be able to teach a class of 25,' he said. Ms Eu said the Education and Manpower Bureau was misleading the public with false data by claiming the cost per class for such a size reduction would be $800,000. A study she had conducted with the University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Institute of Education put the cost at $485,000. And the cost would be zero if the government returned to education the funds it saved from the reduction in student numbers, caused by the falling birthrate, she said.