Going paperless can help Hong Kong Education Bureau fortify its green aims
The Education Bureau should be commended for efforts to save the environment through educational and managerial programmes outlined in its Environmental Report 2016.
According to the report, the bureau has enhanced students’ environmental awareness through organising a range of school-based activities. It has also adopted a green management framework and appointed energy managers to oversee implementation of energy-saving and green measures.
Nevertheless, to further protect the environment and save resources, the bureau must work more closely with local schools in areas like saving paper and adopting new technologies for communication and administration.
The Environmental Report 2016 indicates that paper consumption at 65 government-run schools increased from 124,885 reams in 2015 to 125,661 reams in 2016. While monitoring the paper consumption of these government schools is important, the bureau should also collect data about paper consumption in all local schools receiving government subsidies.
A paper-saving competition has been organised for the government schools to promote paper-saving efforts. The bureau should also invite the government-funded schools to join the competition so as to share ideas and tips for green practices.
Adopting new technologies for communication and administration can further reduce consumption of paper and energy in the daily operations of the bureau and the schools.
The bureau has provided its staff with email accounts and intranet platforms to go paperless in daily communication. Nevertheless, it does not issue guidelines on how local schools should adopt new technologies to communicate with parents.
An enormous amount of paper could have been saved if the local schools used emails and mobile phone apps to communicate with parents, instead of paper-based circulars.
The bureau must offer more incentives and technical support for the local schools to go paperless in their daily operations.
The bureau should also set an example for saving paper by adopting e-application for Primary One admission. In 2016 and 2017, about 52,000 and 56,000 parents collected paper-based application forms from the bureau for the admission.
Going paperless would not only save a large amount of trees and manpower, but also clearly signal to local schools the government’s determination to promote green practices.
Simon Wang, Kowloon Tong