Shoddy school scandal exposed

LEGISLATORS have urged the Education Bureau (教育局) to help rebuild 28 dilapidated primary schools that have poor facilities which endanger students and teachers.

Eighteen of the ‘matchbox’ schools are in the New Territories (新界), nine in Kowloon (九龍) and one on Hong Kong Island (香港島).

One school does not even have a fi re alarm system and uses a gong to alert students to evacuate, education-sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen (葉建源) said.

He did not name the school but said it was in New Territories West (新界西).

“The principal reminded me to return the gong immediately as it is their only fi re alarm,” Ip said.

The Legislative Council’s (立法會) education panel met on 16 May to discuss possible solutions with bureau representatives.

Ip said the schools need frequent maintenance stemming from clogged toilets and falling masonry, which affect daily operations.

He said besides being substandard, many schools have insufficient facilities or even rooms for student activities.
Ip said the schools with the worst problems should have priority in receiving assistance.

According to guidelines, primary schools should range from 4,000 to 7,000 square metres in size. They should also have between 10 and 14 special rooms for music and other activities.

However, some of the ‘matchbox’ schools are only 1,000 sqm with two or three special rooms. “The students in these premises suffer from noise pollution and poor ventilation. Some don’t even have a basketball court,” Ip said.

The substandard schools were built between the 1950s and 1970s to cater for a sharp rise in student numbers.

(This article is published on The Student Standard on 19 May 2016)

History of school design in Hong Kong

Matchbox-style sub-standard schools in Hong Kong