Seventy-one schools failed to surrender their campuses to the government after they ceased operations, 49 of them being left vacant and unattended, Ming Pao Daily reported Thursday.
Citing a report by the Audit Commission, it said 30.3 percent of all the vacated school premises in Hong Kong had not been surrendered to the government.
Regulations require a school that has ceased to operate, or is relocated, to return its campus to the government.
There were instances in which a school sponsoring body returned the campus to the government but prohibited people from using the main passageway leading to the school’s entrance, making it impossible for the Education Bureau (EDB) to make use of the campus, the audit report said.
It also said there were cases where a school sponsoring body refused to return the campus to the government, saying it would operate a new, self-funded school at the site.
The Audit Commission recommended that the EDB follow up with such cases individually.
In response, the EDB said it agreed with the report of the Audit Commission that there is room for improvement in the identification, allocation and management of vacated school premises.
The EDB said it is reviewing the existing mechanism and will enhance communication with the Lands Department on ways to follow up with the cases.
The audit report found that of the 234 vacated school premises in the EDB’s records, 27 had been demolished or were waiting to be torn down, while 71 of the remaining campuses had yet to be returned to the government.
Of the unreturned campuses, 62 were sitting on private land, and 32 of these premises could be taken back by the government under the property deeds.
The Audit Commission identified two more campuses that should have fallen into this category and has asked the Lands Department to look into the cases.
The nine unreturned school campuses on government land have been vacant for an average of 11 years.
A 4,000 square meter campus in Tai Po has been empty since the school ceased operations more than 18 years ago.
Wan Chai Primary School, occupying a 2,000 square meter site, was closed in 2006, but the management did not return the site to the government.
The building has been used by the German Swiss International School since 2008.
Peggy Lam Pei Yu-dja, chancellor of Wan Chai Primary School, told Apple Daily there is no reason to return the campus to the government, which granted 50 years of land use rights to the school’s organizer.
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