Nearly 700 pupils and teachers of a Sha Tin secondary school observed a moment of silence yesterday in protest at its planned closure. Pupils of HK & KLN CCPA Ma Chung Sum Secondary School tied yellow ribbons to fencing after signing a petition appealing to the government to save the school. They gathered in the school hall to observe a minute's silence before going to their classrooms. Education Secretary Michael Suen Ming-yeung had been due to meet the Professional Teachers' Union this week to discuss alternatives to avoid shutting schools. But a spokesman for Mr Suen said yesterday the government was still considering alternatives and had yet to schedule a meeting. It was confirmed that three schools admitted fewer than 67 Form One students this academic year, but the government refused to name them. Schools that have fewer than 67 pupils will not be allocated Form One classes next September. The Sha Tin secondary school is among the three threatened with closure as it had recruited only 48 Form One pupils. Chan Chi-chung, teacher representative at the school, said the silent protest expressed their sadness over the school's future. 'We want our students to think about what they gained from the school in the past and what the future for them will be like,' Mr Chan said. He hoped the government would allow the school to operate with small class sizes for a few years until the student population increased again, but he was not optimistic. 'We know it's difficult but we must stand firm to fight for what we think is right.' Benny Cheung Tsz-wing, 24, an assistant chemical engineer who studied at the school from 1996 to 2003, said: 'The school might not be able to meet the government's statistical requirement but it can't be used as an excuse to take away efforts made by teachers over the years. 'Senior officials of the Education Bureau should have had better long-term planning 10 years ago to foresee a falling student population so they wouldn't be building so many secondary schools in recent years'. Chau Pik-chu, of the school's Parent Teacher Association said: 'My son in Form Three doesn't understand why schools are closing down so easily in Hong Kong.'