School merger sparks fears of closure trend

Top News | Carine Chow 24 Nov 2021

A Wong Tai Sin secondary school will be shut down - the first to go amid falling student numbers - and merged with a Sham Shui Po technical school, the Education Bureau says.

A surplus of school places amid a "structural decline" in student population in Wong Tai Sin has led Lung Cheung Government Secondary School to be closed and its students transferred to Kowloon Technical School in Sham Shui Po, a bureau spokesman said yesterday.

"KTS and LCGSS are former technical schools with similar backgrounds. The premises of KTS are spacious enough to accommodate the transfer students from LCGSS," he said.

The number of students affected is not known but it is probably more than 200 at LCGSS and about 400 at Kowloon Technical School based on the number of classes they have.

The spokesman said the decision came after considering factors - including education policies, changes in the school-age population, demand and supply of school places, overall development needs of government schools and use of government resources.

The merger will alleviate excessive school places in Wong Tai Sin District, he said, and integrate resources of the two schools to provide a better learning environment.

He hoped the merger will be "a leading example for reference" for other school-sponsoring bodies to ensure the sustainable development of the sector and maintain quality of education.

Under the merger, LCGSS will cease operating secondary one and secondary four classes from the 2022-23 school year. The school will end its operation in the 2024-25 school year. Those who are now in secondary four to six at LCGSS will complete their education at the school.

But secondary one to three students will be transferred to KTS when they reach secondary four. They can transfer to other secondary schools in Wong Tai Sin if they wish upon completion of their junior secondary education.

A secondary three student said he was worried about going into an unknown environment upon finishing his education in LCGSS.

"I am afraid that I don't know anyone in the new school, and I am worried that I might be bullied," he said. But a schoolmate said he will plan to study in KTS because of the proximity to his home.

LCGSS principal Yong Chui-wah said in a school notice issued to parents and students that a parent briefing session will be held tomorrow, which KTS principal Yu Chung-ching will also attend.

Established in 1970, LCGSS has 15 classes and more than 50 teaching staff, its website says.

The chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, Wong Kam-leung, said the bureau's sudden decision reverberated in the sector. He was concerned the government may be trying to send a signal that subsidized schools could also face the possibility of shrinking classes or even be shut down.

He hoped the bureau could come up with more feasible solutions to cope with the falling student numbers.

Ng Po-shing, Hok Yau Club's student guidance consultant, said it could be the beginning of other mergers or shutdowns.

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