Wednesday, March 9, 2011

International school in Mui Wo... please?

No demand? Not enough kids? Two words: International school.

I was talking to the folks at Hong Kong International School recently and they said that demand is as high as ever. Even during the financial crisis, the waiting list didn't get shorter.

There is a reason why Discovery Bay International School has the longest waiting list of all the international schools in Hong Kong and why the YMCA Christian College in Tung Chung is talking of expanding rather than cutting down on classes like most government schools.

There is a demand for an international secondary school in Lantau both from the expat and the local community.

The number of potential students for an international secondary school is definitely higher than the number of former drug addicts, I should think.

So why does no one look at the most obvious solution to this problem?

From SCMP Feb 9, 2011:
Report a blow in battle against drug centre

There is not enough demand to justify reopening a secondary school in South Lantau, a study shows, dashing the hopes of Mui Wo residents fighting a drug-treatment centre's bid to use a former school campus.

Residents strongly objected last year to the proposed relocation of Christian Zheng Sheng College to the site in Mui Wo, saying it should reopen for the use of Lantau children.

But based on the population projection and patterns of parental choices in the secondary school place allocation results, it is insufficient to justify the setting up of a new public sector secondary school in South Lantau at this stage, an Education Bureau paper submitted to the Legislative Council says.

The college, which helps students overcome drug problems at its base in Ha Keng on the Chi Ma Wan peninsula on Lantau, hoped to relocate to the former New Territories Heung Yee Kuk Southern District Secondary School. The school closed in 2007 due to low enrolments.

The college has room for 30 students but has enrolled more than 100.

Based on statistics and parental choices, the bureau projected that only 33 Primary Six pupils, or two-thirds of the South Lantau pupils participating in the allocation system, would enrol in secondary schools in the Islands District.

It is also projected that the number of children aged six to 11 would drop from 9,800 in the 2010 school year to 9,100 in the 2013 school year before rebounding in 2014. The number of those aged 12 to 17 is expected to drop by 15 per cent, or 1,700 students, between the 2010 and 2015 school years.

The bureau said existing public secondary school places were sufficient to meet demand.

College principal Alman Chan Siu-cheuk said the figures reflected the demand in Lantau. "We really hope the government replies to our application on Mui Wo as soon as possible, as many of our students, at least 24, will need to sit public examinations under the new senior secondary curriculum next year,'' Chan said.

But Islands district councillor and a member of the Mui Wo Rural Committee, Wong Fuk-kan, said there was an increasing number of school-age children in the district.

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