Date of sitting: 6 March 2002
Asked by: The Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Replied by: SEM
It is learnt that some schools consider that Education Department's primary one allocation mechanism, which makes use of computer programmes, lacks transparency, rendering it impossible for schools to know about parents' choices of schools for their children. The Government has implemented the new primary one admission system since the beginning of this school year, and the percentage of centrally allocated places has increased from the previous 35% to 52.8%, further exacerbating the problem of the lack of transparency in the allocation of places by computer programmes. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
whether the current specific arrangements and procedures for the allocation of places by computer programmes involve human factors or administrative procedures which may cause schools to admit fewer students than it should have admitted according to the actual choice of the parents, and thus resulting in these schools operating fewer primary one classes;
At the Central Allocation stage, the number of Primary One classes which a primary school may operate is primarily based on the school's class structure in the preceding year. Other relevant factors are the supply of and demand for Primary One places within the school net, parental choices, the number of classrooms available, the optimum class structure for the school as well as the number of children already admitted by the school during the 'Discretionary Places Admission' stage. Based on the result of a computer analysis of the actual choices made by parents during the Central Allocation stage, the Education Department (ED) would work out the number of children to be allocated to each primary school. As a matter of principle, if the number of children which has been allocated to a particular class of a school is less than that for a normal class and at the same time, there are still unfilled places in the other schools of the same school net, the school may not be allowed to operate that particular class. For example, if there are 96 children in a school net, the school net would need to provide three Primary One classes altogether. If there are only two schools in the school net, and 40 children have chosen School A while 56 children have chosen School B at the Discretionary Places Admission and the Central Allocation stages, then School A would operate only one class whereas School B would operate two classes.
In late February each year, parents of children requiring central allocation would be invited in writing to submit applications in March regarding their choices of schools. The ED would conduct computer analysis of parents' choices and arrive at a view in May on the number of Primary One classes for individual schools and notify the schools accordingly. Central allocation of places by computers would then be conducted for these applicants.
As the entire allocation process is computerised, schools would not be able to see how the system inside the computer works. Hence, observing the computer allocation process would not help enhance transparency. ED would be happy to explain the details of the allocation process to those schools which wish to have a better understanding of it.