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Librarians sceptical about book giveaway: survey

2020-06-26 HKT 21:58
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  • Eight out of ten librarians polled in a survey say they think there may be a "transfer of funds" to Beijing-linked publishers. Image: Shutterstock
    Eight out of ten librarians polled in a survey say they think there may be a "transfer of funds" to Beijing-linked publishers. Image: Shutterstock
Eight out of ten local school librarians polled by the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (PTU) say they suspect a HK$60 million book giveaway to local students would end up benefiting publishers linked to Beijing.

Under the summer reading scheme announced by the Education Bureau last week, all students can be given one book free of charge from a designated list of 748 books covering four broad topics: Chinese History and culture, healthy living, moral education and Stem Education.

Around 70 percent of the books on the list are published by firms linked to Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong.

Schools would be given HK$100 per student, and have to place their orders by July 9.

Among 211 librarians surveyed, 79 percent said they think this may involve a ‘transfer of funds’ to state-owned publishers.

Eighty-four percent think schools should be given free rein in deciding what kind of books to buy for their students.

Union vice-president Ip Kin-yuen said the current arrangement gives people the impression that the government is biased towards mainland-linked publishers.

“This is not a good way to handle the issue”, he said. “I think that the Education Bureau should open up the whole scheme to allow teachers to purchase books according to the students’ ability level and also interest.”

Ip also said the survey found that 93 percent of respondents think schools have been given too little time to place orders.

He said the deadline should be extended from July 9 to at least the end of the year, saying the current timeframe is placing inordinate pressure on teachers to deliver the books to their students before the summer break.