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Angry parents take case to legco

Alumni and parents of pupils at two aided girls’ schools say they will file complaints over plans to join the Direct Subsidy Scheme

Parents and alumni of two elite government-aided girls’ schools plan to lodge complaints to the legislature tomorrow over a proposed switch to the Direct Subsidy Scheme.

They say the conversion would jeopardise the poorer pupils’ access to equal education, as the two schools may start charging fees and they may not be able to afford them.

Alumni of St Paul’s Secondary School and parents of pupils at St Stephen’s Girls’ Primary School will lodge two separate complaints tomorrow to the Legislative Council’s redress system over the schools’ plans to join the scheme.

They say St Paul’s consultation with stakeholders on the proposal was inadequate.

“The so-called consultation only lasted for a month, in February. Two of those weeks fell within the Lunar New Year holiday,” said Betty Wah Shan, a St Paul’s alumna.

And she said it was not possible to accurately gauge parents’ views from the first lot of questionnaires that were handed out.

“There were no options to say you supported or didn’t support the plan. The school forcibly classified parents’ views so that half of them had no comment, 24 per cent supported it and only a handful of them opposed it,” she said. Wah added that a second consultation was conducted with parents and alumni but the results had not yet been released – even though the proposal to become a DSS school in the 2014-15 academic year was submitted in February.

A St Paul’s spokeswoman declined to comment.

An Education Bureau spokeswoman confirmed it had received an application – without identifying which school – to join the Direct Subsidy Scheme and it was being processed in line with the criteria and standard procedures. She added that the applicant could follow a procedure most suited to its circumstances, without elaborating.

Unlike government-funded schools, direct subsidy schools can charge fees and have greater freedom in areas such as establishing their own curriculum – such as choosing to offer the International Baccalaureate programme.

The subsidy is linked to the number of pupils at the school.

St Stephen’s Girls’ College and St Stephen’s Girls’ Primary School in Mid-Levels have also proposed joining the scheme in the 2015-16 academic year.

One mother whose daughter studies at St Stephen’s Girls’ Primary School said parents would submit their own complaint to Legco, urging the government to review the direct subsidy policy.

They say it makes it more difficult for some pupils to get access to a better education.

In a vote on the proposal initiated by pupils at St Stephen’s Girls’ College last week, 60 per cent of them opposed the switch and only 8 per cent agreed and 32 per cent were neutral. Some 92 per cent of the school’s 848 pupils took part in the vote.

There are 61 direct subsidy schools in the city – including the well-known Heep Yunn School and Diocesan Boys’ School.

南華早報  By Johnny Tam


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