I move that the Education (Amendment) Bill 2000 be read the second time.
2. The Education Ordinance and the Education Regulations regulate the operation of schools and their teaching activities. The Bill updates the Ordinance and the Regulations which were last reviewed and amended in 1993. It consists of a miscellany of amendments which aim to delete archaic provisions, remove unnecessary restrictions on schools, and streamline administrative procedures. For example:
- Clause 5 removes the statutory requirement to issue each school manager with a certificate, which will help to reduce non-essential administrative work.
- Clauses 17 and 18 reduce the frequency of fire drills and the maintenance of fire equipment in schools to a more practical and safe level.
- Clause 23 removes the requirement to register students' associations with the Director of Education.
3. The Bill also includes a number of amendments to safeguard the rights of parents and students, and to facilitate more effective enforcement of the Ordinance. For example:
- Clause 14 prohibits the publication of any advertisement containing false or misleading information including course contents and teachers' qualifications. At present, the Ordinance only proscribes false advertisements in relation to a school's premises and registration status. We further propose to increase the penalty from a fine of $25,000 to $100,000.
- Clause 10 empowers school inspectors to demand proof of identity and personal particulars of any person found in school premise where illegal activities are suspected. This will facilitate further investigation or prosecution.
- Clause 15(e) relaxes the time limit for taking out prosecution. At present, prosecution must take place within six months from the date an offence is committed. Since offences may not be brought to the attention of the authority immediately, we propose to start the countdown of six months from the date the offence comes to the notice of the Education Department instead.
4. Madam President, I commend the Bill to Honourable Members.