A Legislative Council panel urged the government to allocate more resources to the integrated education scheme in view of the soaring number of students with special educational needs (SEN), the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Reacting to an Audit Commission report on the issue, the Legco Public Accounts Committee noted that there was a 37 percent increase in the number of SEN students from 2012/13 to 2016/17.
In its own report, the committee expressed concern over inadequacies in the implementation of the program, under which SEN students attend classes with regular students to improve their assimilation into the community.
In 2016/17 school year, according to the audit report, 764 of the 844 public schools, or 91 percent, were not provided with the enhanced school-based educational psychology service.
Of those 764 schools, 74 each had more than 80 SEN students.
The report also said that 42 of the 884 public schools, or 5 percent, received fewer educational psychologist visit days than required.
Moreover, many of the SEN students were first diagnosed in the later stage of their education.
During the academic year, a total of 6,131 students were diagnosed to have special educational needs. Of these students, 16.2 percent were in Primary Three to Primary Six students, 11.8 percent were in Secondary One to Secondary Three, and 3.8 percent were in Secondary Four to Secondary Six.
Nearly one-third of the students were identified after Primary Two.
The authorities should ensure that SEN students “were identified at the earliest opportunities so that timely support could be provided to them”, the committee said.
During the period, 42,890 SEN students were studying in 884 public schools made up 7.8 percent of the total number of students in the public school sector.
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