Education sector representatives on Thursday called on the government to roll out small class teaching and attract mainland students to study in Hong Kong, in a bid to counter the impact of a drop in the number of students.
Their comments came after public sector schools said 14 of the primary one classes planned for this academic year have had to be scrapped, as well as 22 secondary one classes.
Education sector lawmaker Chu Kwok-keung told an RTHK programme that student numbers are expected to continue to fall in the coming years and schools are worried they may have to cut classes or even face closure.
He added that smaller class sizes have advantages and should be protected.
“If each class could be cut to fewer than 30 students, teachers can take care of each student better, including their emotional needs. It’s not just to avoid cutting classes and closing schools, but to improve the quality of education at the same time," he said.
Polly Chan, vice-chair of the Aided Primary School Heads Association, echoed Chu's views. She said she hopes the Education Bureau will inform schools of any plans to switch to small class teaching in advance so they can prepare for the transition.
Chan told RTHK that the reduction of classes comes as no surprise amid a decreasing birth rate and "unpredictable" numbers of pupils leaving the city. She said authorities could consider bringing in students from elsewhere.
"In the long run, maybe we can invite mainland students to Hong Kong. We have some school places for them to study in Hong Kong. We hope that we can attract some overseas students to come too," she said.