13th March 2013
<The NEC planned to get back their funding from the government by getting the support of school principals>
The National Education Centre (NEC) is losing their site for their Nation Education Centre in Tai Po, subsidised to the tune of HK$5 million (US$ 450k) by Hong Kong’s Education Bureau and Home Affairs Department and the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Office. The place will have to be cleared by June 2013. The NEC has recently sent emails to school principals asking for their support for the NEC to keep operating and to persuade the government to keep investing in the NEC. The director of the centre, Mr. Wong Kwan Yu, has stated that the opinion and support gathered from the campaign will be handed to the Education Bureau demanding that they reconsider NEC’s right to use the land. He also stressed that delivering National Education is a obligation of the HKSAR government, hence he hopes that government will back them up.
Scholarism worries the controversy will rewind
One of the spokesmen of the action group “Scholarism” has expressed concern over the NEC’s actions as it will make the National Education issue erupt again, and said Scholarism will consider taking further actions after discussing with their members. The Education Bureau also states that the NEC centre in Tai Po’s rental contract is going to terminate on 30th June, and an investigation will be made to examine the needs of the schools before deciding the future of the centre.
According to Companies Registry, the Tai Po National Education Centre’s financial statements have only been filed up to August 2010, and the centre hasn’t submitted any documents since then. The August 2010 financial statements show that the centre received a HK$4.49 million (US$580k) subsidy from the Education Bureau, forming a estimated total amount of HK$50 million (US$6.45m) subsidy to the centre. The money has mostly been spent on salaries and subsidizing exchange trips to mainland China.
The NEC sent a two-page notice to all schools about the issue. Firstly it states that ” the centre will devote its service to the educational sector as it always does.’ The message then called for support, enclosing a reply slip for school principals to sign in support of the centre’s staying open, with a deadline to reply of 16th March. A questionnaire on the evaluation of the activities is also included in the second page of the mail.
Director: It is a must to launch the National Education
Mr. Kwan Yu Wong states that the centre has not received any subsidies from the government since June 2012, and he is determined to operate until June 2013 despite of the difficulties it’s facing for the time being. According to Wong, the centre is now supported by privately-raised funding and has made cuts to its costs, including laying off some employees. Day camps for National Education are still hosted everyday by the centre.
“We only sent the notice to those schools which have used the centre before” stressed Mr. Wong. He states that the centre aims to evaluate its activities’ usefulness to users and says that it will modify its approach in order to win back the government’s subsidy.
Mr. Yat Fung Lam, the chairman of The Hong Kong Subsidised Secondary School Council, says that it is inevitable that (the centre) seeks the feedback and support of schools, and that the awareness of and concern about Mainland exchange tours has been heightened following the outbreak of the National Education Dispute. He suggests that the NEC would make a good hosting partner for schools if they are able to operate in a transparent and accountable manner.