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[Archive] Acceptance of donations from suppliers of student lunch boxes, uniforms and office equipment

LEGCO QUESTION NO. 15(WRITTEN REPLY)

 

Date of Meeting: 6 December 2000



Asked by : Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung

Replied by : SEM

Question :

Will the Government inform this Council:

  1. whether it has issued guidelines to government and public sector schools on the acceptance of donations by the school authorities and their staff from suppliers of students' lunches, uniforms, stationery and appliances; and of the measures it has put in place to ensure that the schools follow the guidelines; and

  2. of the number and details of cases reported to the Education Department on the acceptance of donations from lunch suppliers by schools in the past five years?


Reply:

Madam President,

a. All staff of publicly funded schools (Note) are subject to section 9 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO). Under this section, it is an offence for school staff to accept, without their employers' permission, an advantage as an inducement to or reward for doing or not doing an act in relation to the schools. As for government school staff, they are subject to section 3 of POBO which makes it an offence for them to solicit or accept any advantage without the general or special permission of the Chief Executive.

In addition, the Codes of Aid broadly set out the principles which aided schools should follow in accepting advantages and donations. The Codes also provide that school management committees of aided schools must ensure that all donations, if accepted, are expended for school or educational purposes only.

Furthermore, the Education Department (ED), in consultation with the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), have issued two set of guidelines to publicly funded schools. The first set of guidelines, "the General Guidelines on the Acceptance of Advantages and Related Matters", set out factors schools should consider when deciding whether advantages and donations should be accepted and remind schools that advantages must not be solicited. The second set of guidelines, "the Guidelines on Textbook Selection Procedures and the Acceptance of Publishers' Donations by Schools", draw attention to possibilites for corruption that may arise in connection with the selection of textbooks, and advise schools on measures to prevent corruption.

To ensure that the guidelines are complied with, all aided schools are required to report quarterly to ED details of advantages and donations received. If ED considers that the advantages and donations received are not appropriate, it will ask the schools concerned to return the donations to the donors.

The guidelines for publicly funded schools mentioned above are broadly applicable to government schools. To ensure that the guidelines are adhered to, government schools are required to report donations to ED on a regular basis.

Moreover, the Administration issues guidelines on acceptance of advantages and donations to government departments and civil servants from time to time. Government schools and their staff, being part of the Government and the civil service respectively, are required to follow the relevant guidelines. During its periodic audits on government schools' internal records, ED inspects records on acceptance of advantages and donations to ensure that the guidelines are followed. Any government school staff who do not comply with the guidelines applicable to civil servants are also subject to disciplinary action.

An ED Corruption Prevention Group, with membership including representatives of ICAC, meets regularly to identify possible areas which call for review from a corruption prevention point of view and to advise generally on corruption prevention matters. ED and ICAC have jointly organized seminars for schools on proper procedures for procuring goods and services. In addition, reference materials relating to acceptance of advantages are available on ED's homepage for schools' reference.
b. As mentioned in part (a) above, government schools and aided schools are required to report to ED details of advantages and donations received. These records are kept by the Department for two years.

According to ED's records, a total of 132 cases (73 from secondary schools and 59 from primary schools) on accepting advantages and donations from lunch suppliers were reported to ED in the past two years. Donations from lunch suppliers were mainly for sponsoring school events and activities of parent-teacher associations, and for purchasing school furniture and equipment.