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):
In view of the reducing demand for kindergarten places resulting from the continuous decline in the birth rate of Hong Kong, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the planning standards for deciding whether space in public housing estates will be designated for use as kindergartens; and
(b) whether it plans to review such planning standards so as to avoid an oversupply of kindergarten places; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
(a) Under the existing mechanism, the Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB) will, at the planning stage of a public housing estate or major private housing development, project the number of kindergarten-age children in the area concerned on the basis of the forecast percentage of the 3 to 5 age group in the population of that area. Based on the standard of one bi-sessional classroom for every 67 children in the above age group under the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines (HKPSG), EMB will then project the number of kindergartens required in the estate or development.
Apart from the number of kindergartens, the HKPSG has also provided guidelines on the location of kindergartens. According to the guidelines, kindergartens should preferably be located within 400 m measured radially from residential areas. On their way to school, kindergarten pupils should not be expected to cross any major roads which are not served by grade-separated or traffic light controlled pedestrian crossings.
For space designated for use as kindergartens based on the aforesaid standards, the Housing Department is responsible for the construction and funding of kindergarten premises in public housing estates, and individual developers for those premises within their own private housing developments.
(b) We will closely monitor the latest population projection and review the planning for kindergartens from time to time on the basis of updated population forecast for each district. In so doing, we will try to avoid under-enrollment caused by excessive supply of places within any particular public housing estate or housing development.
End/Wednesday, May 21, 2003