‘Schools could close down due to student exodus’

Educators on Tuesday expressed worries that schools are under-recruiting due to an exodus of students amid an emigration wave and may have to close down in future as a result.

Dion Chen, chairman of the Direct Subsidy Scheme Schools Council, said while it used to be common for higher form students to leave secondary school early to study abroad, more form one students are also leaving now.

Chen, who is also formerly headteacher of the YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College, said he has learned that twice as many students have dropped out this year from the school, and it is finding it hard to fill the 50 vacant places it now has.

“This year is quite special… not many form one students would leave Hong Kong in the past, but this year we can see a similar situation in the lower and higher forms,” he told an RTHK radio programme.

Chen added that schools will have a clearer picture of their student population in September, as more students may leave during the summer holiday.

He said direct subsidy schools, which are traditionally very popular with parents, used to be able to fill any vacancies by recruiting students on the wait list, but they may now need to place advertisements to find new pupils.

The honorary chairman of the Aided Primary School Heads Association, Cheung Yung-pong, said primary schools are also facing similar problems.

Speaking on the same programme, he said there are vacancies across different grades in primary schools, noting two or three siblings studying in the same school may drop out together.

Cheung said some schools may have to close down in future if they can’t enrol enough students.

“We have not come to that yet, but it’s a possibility,” he said.