Less than a month after a primary school in Tuen Mun was found to have inflated its student numbers for many years to avoid funding cuts, two more educational institutions in the city are suspected of having used the same “phantom students” tactic.
Indicating that authorities are looking into two new cases, the Education Bureau said on Monday that it has told the Tun Yu School in Yuen Long and Caritas Tuen Mun Marden Foundation Secondary School in Tuen Mun to improve their management, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The bureau also said that it will strengthen sampling inspections in the new academic year to make sure that all schools conduct roll calls in their classes precisely and properly.
Earlier this month, Hing Tak School in Tuen Mun was found to have registered some non-existent pupils on its student rosters, boosting the headcount in the government-subsidized institution.
The phantom students were kept on the rolls with the apparent aim of ensuring more government funding, a scandal that led to the sacking of its principal.
Schools deem it necessary to maintain a good headcount as the student number determines the financial as well as teaching and other resources allocated by the government.
According to reports, Tun Yu School in Yuen Long is among the institutions that have come under a cloud in relation to their practices.
The school is said to have promoted at least three pupils who had been absent for between 10 and 108 days during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years and had not taken any exams.
But the school refutes suggestions of improper conduct. A management committee member has been quoted as saying that two of the pupils had transferred to schools in mainland China and the third one had returned to school and is going to graduate.
Yu Tai-wai, who chairs Tuen Mun District Secondary School Heads Association, said it is a fact that student number in the district has been dwindling, with six in ten schools having three or less classes for Secondary One students.
As for the case of Caritas Tuen Mun Marden Foundation Secondary School, it was accused of keeping on its rolls eight transferring students who were supposed to attend higher grades in Secondary One grade.
The move helped the school keep the number of classes at three instead of seeing them cut to two, Apple Daily reports.
The school principal has denied any wrongdoing, without giving a detailed explanation, according to the paper.
An Education Bureau spokesperson, meanwhile, was quoted as saying that the bureau will be looking into the two cases more deeply.
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