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Hong Kong schools

Parents at troubled Hong Kong school consider transfer of their children

Some are weighing their options while others have not taken action due to inconvenience or unavailability of choices

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 August, 2017, 11:21pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 August, 2017, 11:21pm

Some parents of pupils at a Tuen Mun primary school embroiled in an enrolment row said on Saturday they were considering transferring their children elsewhere, even as others were reassured by the ousting of its principal.

Chan Cheung-ping, the head of Hing Tak School, was accused of exaggerating pupil admission figures to avoid a cut in funding, and was removed from her position after a board meeting on Friday.

The move came two weeks before the start of the new academic year.

Governance problems at schools prompt call for change from union

Other governance problems identified at the school include the alienating of teachers, not following procedures in hiring and promoting staff, and failing to respond to inquiries from the board.

A mother of a Grade Two pupil, who only wanted to be known as Lau, said that she had thought about sending her daughter to another school if Chan was not removed.

“What angered me most was that Chan forbade us from questioning her at a parents’ meeting in February when she announced that the president of the parent-teacher committee would be fired and sued for libelling her,” she said.

Lau also claimed that she had never received any written financial report from the committee despite parents having to pay a membership fee of HK$300 a year. “No school in Tuen Mun charges this much,” she said.

Lau, who arrived at the school on Saturday morning with some 70 parents to collect textbooks and uniforms, said she did not transfer her daughter in the end because it was too much trouble.

A mother surnamed Huang said she tried to find another school but her daughter had failed the Grade One admission interviews elsewhere.

“I am most worried about whether my child will be taught by substitute teachers coming and going every year,” said Huang, who called on the school to have a settled teaching team.

Another mother, who did not want to be named, said she would decide over the weekend whether to send her son to a public school in the Nanshan district of Shenzhen, where the family are based.

Lessons from school with ‘shadow’ students

“I was weighing my options, and after the controversy broke out, I felt more like choosing Shenzhen,” she said, adding that her main consideration was to avoid the hassle of the daily cross-border trips to school.

But other parents said the dismissal of Chan had helped restore their confidence.

“Time is too tight, and anyway, it is teachers who are teaching the students, not the principal,” a mother surnamed Feng, said. She added that she believed any further problems would be solved soon as Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had spoken out on the matter.

The school board promised on Friday that it would reform governance by promoting more eligible teachers and appointing an acting principal on Monday.

According to Lui Ki-cheung, a board member appointed by the Education Bureau, the board also rejected a suggestion last week to allow Chan to resign.

To resume effective administration at Hing Tak School for the new academic year, the board has advertised for a permanent principal to replace Chan, and has started the selection of an acting head among a few senior staff.

Lui said one candidate was a former deputy principal surnamed Ho, who was sacked earlier this year after blowing the whistle on Chan.