Fears that 3,000 will lose jobs Teachers held a rally yesterday calling for the government to reverse its decision to shut 10 per cent of secondary schools over five years. About 30 members of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union marched from HSBC headquarters in Central to the Central Government Offices, where they submitted an open letter addressed to Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. The union called for a small class teaching policy to be introduced at secondary schools to save 50 out of 503 secondary schools. Szeto Wah, the union's council chairman, warned that up to 3,000 teachers and school workers would be laid off as a result. 'Closing down secondary schools right before the launch of the new senior secondary school curriculum will hit the education sector very heavily,' Mr Szeto said. 'With schools going back, we are launching a campaign to gather signatures and call on the sector to protest against school closures with full force. We will never give up the fight until we've achieved our goal [of stopping schools from being shut down].' An official student headcount at each school is scheduled for September 16, which will identify how many schools have admitted less than 67 Form One pupils. These schools are expected to be in the first batch to be closed. The wave of schools being closed has been extended from the primary to the secondary sector due to falling birth rates. From 2001 to 2005, the Education Bureau shut 135 primary schools across the city. A union vice-president, Wong Hak-lim, said it would be important for the government to stabilise the teaching environment while schools were in transition in adopting the new secondary structure and curriculum for the 2009/10 school year. Another union vice-president, Fung Wai-wah, said band three schools, which cater to students with weaker academic performance, would be among the first batch to suffer as they were less popular among parents. The deputy director of the union's rights and complaints department, James Hon Lin-shan, said teachers from band two and band one schools would not be ready to adjust their teaching style for band three students if those schools were closed. A government spokeswoman said the Education Bureau had been exploring options to minimise the impact of falling birth rates. She said demand for school places was rising as a result of new arrivals from the mainland. 'There should be a continuous decrease in schools that may not be able to enrol at least 67 students in the new school year,' she said. But Mr Hon said the government had no grounds to say fewer schools would be closed as the headcount had yet to be carried out. The union will stage a second rally on September 13, with teaching staff and school workers from affected secondary schools taking part.