Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim has called on the public to accept schools for social development (SSD), saying that their students do not pose any danger to the local community or create any disturbance in the neighborhood.
Speaking for the first time on the controversy, Ng defended the government’s move to relocate Tung Wan Mok Law Shui Wah School (MLSW), an SSD for pupils with emotional and behavioral problems, to Tuen Mun, saying that the school’s old campus on Lantau Island is too small and shabby, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The principal of Yan Oi Tong Chan Wong Suk Fong Memorial Secondary School (CWSF), which is next to MLSW relocation site, had earlier opposed the move, saying that the MLSW students have problems such as drug addiction, sexual promiscuity and suicidal tendencies.
He has since apologized for his remarks, but has not indicated that he is withdrawing his opposition to the MLSW’s relocation to a site next to his school.
Ng said opposition to the relocation move stemmed from a misunderstanding and that the CWSF inaccurately quoted some of the contents of an Education Bureau paper on SSDs.
He urged the public to clear their misunderstanding of MLSW, which is one of the seven SSDs in Hong Kong.
The Legislative Council’s education committee on Monday night approved the plan to relocate MLSW to the new campus in Tuen Mun.
Legislators belonging to the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU) and New People’s Party dropped their opposition to the proposal, paving the way for the approval of the school’s relocation.
During the Legco panel’s hearing, Undersecretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said SSDs are generally accepted and supported by members of society and that the emotional and behavioral issues faced by SSD students are only temporary.
Yeung also said SSD campuses should not be remote or secluded in order to help students integrate into communities.
New People’s Party lawmaker Michael Tien said he appreciated the SSD philosophy, noting that students who have to settled for a place in such a school are not necessarily inferior in capabilities.
Lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing from the HKFTU said society should show more compassion and empathy towards students with special needs.
Wong did not mention that several HKFTU district councilors took part in a petition opposing the relocation of MLSW to Tuen Mun.
Principal regrets remarks on schools for problem students (May 9, 2016)
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