Following is a question by the Hon Tam Yiu-chung and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Professor Arthur K C Li, in the Legislative Council today (May 21):
Some subvented schools have reflected to me that the delay in allocating funding to schools for repair and maintenance works has rendered it difficult for the school management to carry out the repair and maintenance work on various building services installations and drains for schools within this year. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the reasons for the delay in allocating funding;
(b) of the respective amount of funding given to subvented and subsidized schools for such purpose in each of the past three years;
(c) whether it will reduce the funding for such purpose in future; if it will, of the reasons for that;
(d) of its plans to ensure that subvented and subsidized schools will carry out proper repair and maintenance works; and
(e) whether it has plans to check the design and maintenance of sewerage of all schools so as to prevent the spread of viruses and safeguard the health of students; if it has, of the details of the plans; if not, the reasons for that?
(a) Every year, the Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB) will invite aided schools to apply for the non-recurrent subsidy for major repair works to be carried out the next year. Based on an assessment of schools' needs and advice from the works departments, the estimates for the next financial year will be formulated. EMB has always notified individual school of the approved subsidy for major repair works at the beginning of the financial year and expects repair works to be carried out within that financial year. In February 2002, we tried to advance the notification to schools of the possible approved subsidy for the 2002/03 financial year to allow works to start earlier. In fact, most schools, with the agreement of the works departments, scheduled the major repair works to be carried out during the summer holidays. This year, EMB informed schools of the approved subsidy for major repair works in March and April. The notification was later compared with last year. It is believed that the progress of schools' repair works will not be affected.
Besides, the Government has provided aided schools with the recurrent subsidy of the School and Class Grant to cover operational expenditure including those for routine maintenance and repairs. This recurrent grant has been provided to schools without any delay.
(b) The amount of funding given to aided schools for major repairs in the past three years are as follows:
Funding allocated to aided schools for major repairs:
2000/01 financial year - $730 million
2001/02 financial year - $770 million
2002/03 financial year - $790 million
(c) In the past two years, there was a slight increase in the Government's provision of funding for aided schools to carry out major repair works. It is believed that there would be no great difference in such funding in future.
(d) At present, the major repair works for aided schools are managed and monitored by the works departments to ensure that the works comply with the work standards and relevant legislative requirements. As regards routine maintenance and repairs, schools may consult the works departments for professional advice and must employ qualified craftsman to carry out the repairs. In case of emergency, schools may request the works departments for emergency repair. In addition, EMB will arrange inspection for special items including periodic inspection and testing of the electrical installations in aided schools.
Commencing from the current financial year, EMB plans to gradually strengthen schools' participation in school repair projects and bring in professional service from the market. By so doing, the quality of school repairs and maintenance would be enhanced and better geared to schools' needs.
(e) The Education Regulations stipulate that the design and the construction of all registered school buildings shall be such that the health and safety of the occupants shall be reasonably assured. Moreover, all school premises shall at all times be kept in a satisfactory state of repair. The supervisor shall carry out such alterations and improvements to the sanitary arrangements in the school premises as may be required by the Permanent Secretary for Education and Manpower by notice in writing within a period specified in such notice.
In general, the design, repairs and maintenance condition of aided schools' premises are generally satisfactory. Schools can apply for emergency repair in case of sewerage damage or leakage. In the annual circular to invite aided school to apply for non-recurrent grants for major repairs/alterations for the 2004/05 financial year, EMB has reminded schools to pay attention to the condition of the drainage system and to consult professional advice from the works departments in case of technical problems. After schools' submission of repair works applications, the works departments will arrange site inspection at schools.
Meanwhile, EMB will provide reference materials on sanitary and safety of school premises, including sanitary fitments, sewerage repairs and maintenance, for all schools' information.
End/Wednesday, May 21, 2003