#Hashtag Hong Kong



    Listen to #Hashtag Hong Kong every Sunday morning at 8.15

    Focussing on issues affecting civil society, we'll hear from representatives of NGOs, associations, statutory bodies, and non-profit groups.

    (Sundays 8.15am - 8.25am)



    Mervyn Cheung, Chairman of Hong Kong Education Policy Concern Organisation

    In recent years, commencement of new academic years in some schools is increasingly haunted by the prospect of coming under the axe on account of the growing difficulty to attract enough numbers of students to cross the numerical thresholds laid down for the annual head-counting exercise which was conducted on September 15 by the Education Bureau (EDB). In the current school year, five primary schools have not been allocated subsidised Primary One classes and three secondary schools, according to their own decisions, do not operate Secondary One classes. Stressing repeatedly that the declining class rolls have become structurally linked with the city’s dropping birth rate which returned only 32,500 babies in 2022, the EDB have ruled out further reduction in class size as a way to tackle the student enrolment problem. 
    Given a realistic look at the the territory’s demographic trends, it is next to impossible to arrest the shrinkage of population in the school-age cohort. In the present year, children aged six come to 57,300 in number but will go down to 50,000 in six years, representing a downward slide of 13 percent. On the other hand, those eligible for Secondary One placements will diminish from 71,600 at present to around 60,000 in six years, marking a plunge of 16 percent. Overall, the EDB estimated a 15 percent fall in the SAR’s student population over the next six years. In the absence of any foreseeable changes, this implies that each year, there are bound to be schools being phased out from the sector, either because of headwind from parents’ falling patronage or changes in the social environment in the areas where they are located. This is precisely the circumstantial context in the closure declared last week of Precious Blood Primary School in Wah Fu Estate in Pok Fu Lam, which is set to stop admitting Primary One pupils starting from 2025. The school has cited a curtailment in student numbers and the redevelopment of the Wah Fu Estate as the reasons for ceasing operations which are beyond the management’s effective control. 
    Meanwhile, the Rosaryhill Secondary School is seen by parents, students and teachers as having delivered abruptly a discontinuation statement that is “highly selfish” and “disappointing”, and has drawn surprisingly a clarification from the school’s principal in rebuttal of the supervisor’s claim of a reduction in intake numbers and the associated strain on the school’s finances that have compelled the Dominican Missions  — its sponsoring organisation — to call a stop to its work by the end of the 2025-26 school year. Teachers were also reported to have complained about their being kept in the dark about the decision to shut down the school before the news went public. Under the closure plan, Dominican Missions would hand over its kindergarten and primary school to Dalton School Hong Kong for the next academic year. Furthermore, privately-funded Dalton School will extend its international stream to the Rosaryhill School after all students in its senior forms complete their education in 2025-26. This would then conclude the school’s roles and responsibilities as a government-aided secondary school. 
    Such a metamorphosis of Rosaryhill’s functional framework has raised vital concerns over the educational equity the school has hitherto offered as an aided school regardless of the socioeconomic backgrounds of the students being schooled there. This basic educational equality, which guarantees fundamental rights and access to the same public-sector school education serving to alter students’ fate through proper knowledge acquisition, will soon be eclipsed by a considerably higher-class and costly mode of operation that will practically exclude grassroots children from participating. 
    To bring enrolment-driven school close-downs to a soft landing, the EDB have indicated that the number of schools would be reduced in a “gradual and orderly” manner to ensure the optimal use of public funds. Education authorities have also said that schools in the grip of contracting student intakes should seek continued survival by looking for mergers with other schools in similar circumstances. It is worth noting that there are more schools opting on their own to integrate with others in the same school sponsoring groups or choosing to close their operation in anticipation of enrolment difficulties in the upcoming years. Recent cases in the latter category point to the fact that schools founded by the same sponsoring groups are indeed doing well in other districts where the environments for school operations are different. This points strongly to the unnecessary consideration of the ‘face’ dimension on the reallocation of educational resources within the same school sponsoring body. 
    Where appropriate, the EDB should play a go-between role on information and procedures relating to possible mergers among schools interested in striking a new format for partnership. Is it not worth considering that a central register of a restricted nature be set up to record schools with similar intent and purpose to merge for survival, which will facilitate initial contact and exploration on both sides, leaving the details on the deal to be negotiated by the schools’ management teams at a later stage. Early communications between the EDB and schools struggling at the margin are suggested to alert at an early stage their susceptibility to closure for lack of adequate students. 
    A new era in the city’s education has set in which calls for new ideas about positive development in school education. It demands innovative ideas and approaches serving to retain precious experience and expertise that are crucial for the successful training of the new generations of leaders and citizens since their school days.

    01/10/2023 - 足本 Full (HKT 08:15 - 08:30)

    01/10/2023 - Mervyn Cheung, Chairman of Hong Kong Education Policy Concern Organisation


    07 - 10


    Mervyn Cheung, Chairman of Hong Kong Education Policy Concern Organisation


    Raymond Wong, General Manager, SLCO Community Resources


    Maggie Lee, Executive Director of Hong Kong Alzheimer's Disease Association


    Vincent Ng, Executive Director of Suicide Prevention Services


    Marine Thomas, Senior Conservation program Manager at Nature Conservancy Hong Kong


    Joyce Chan , a volunteer at House of Joy and Mercy


    Kylie Lai, Programme Officer, CarbonCare InnoLab


    Ivan Lam, manager of Hong Kong PHAB Association


    Stephanie Ng, founder of Body Banter


    Amanda Lau, board governor of Music Children Foundation

    Kim So-yeon, Student Intern, Soap Cycling

              Hello, my name is So Yeon. I am working as a student intern in Soap Cycling, a charity that recycles lightly used soaps from hotels to bring better hygiene to those who need it the most and help fight the waste crisis in Hong Kong.


                It is only one month until Christmas and the holiday season until Chinese New year! The season of gifts, sharing and spreading love.  How are you planning to spend the season of joy? Going on a trip for a special holiday experience? Well, I am convinced that at least some of you have booked luxurious hotels in Hong Kong for a ‘staycation’. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, ‘staycation’ means a vacation that you spend near your home rather than traveling to another place. There was a local staycation boom in Hong Kong for a while, especially when the pandemic has hit the city in 2020 and 2021.


                Spending quality time in a hotel is certainly a nice way to take a break and recharge yourself. However, have you ever thought of where all the used soaps or shampoos that you have left behind end up? Most of the hotels provide fresh soap, shampoo, and hair conditioner as basic amenities every day. They come in a fancy plastic packaging, and are replaced everyday even when the guest has not finished using it. More than 2 million bars of soap are discarded by hotels in Hong Kong every year, which can actually fill in volumes of 400 carpark lots.


                This seemingly trivial problem has a huge environmental impact on our community. This triggered Soap Cycling to start the journey to promote hygiene and protect our environment. We collect the lightly used soaps and other sanitation amenities from hotels, and recycle them and bring them into the hands of those who need them the most. Soap Cycling works in Hong Kong and Singapore, and also receives soaps from hotels in South Korea and Japan. The recycled soaps are shipped to the Philippines to support school hygiene programs; hygiene kits and liquid soaps are distributed only locally to underprivileged people with the help of our NGO partners.


                While trying to take a role in bringing about a more sustainable world, Soap Cycling also aims to create a socially inclusive community. Our MEY Program, which stands for the Cantonese word “mey” for beauty and M minorities, E elderly, and Y youth, provides employment opportunities for these often marginalized community members.

    …When you come to one of our recycling sessions run by student interns, our friendly and talented elderly workers will always be there to give you a hand. Should you choose to learn how to make soap from scratch, our soap master ladies with a minority background will be your teachers.


                Joining some of the educational interactive sessions at our warehouse is an entertaining way you can support our core work as an NGO. Our mission to reduce waste needs as many supporters as possible, and we cannot emphasize enough the important role of individuals choosing to join the cause in addressing environmental concerns. Small actions and decisions make a big difference. We have a lot of tips on how you can turn this Holiday Season into a season of giving and truely spreading love to all.  If you want to protect the environment, and are willing to make a step forward, let’s start from there together.


                Here are some very easy steps you can take while you enjoy a staycation or vacation at a hotel to make it more eco-friendly. First, bring a bar soap of yours to the hotel! Bar soaps do not have plastic overwrap or packaging, which contribute to reducing plastic waste that is thrown into landfill without being recycled. Another positive impact of natural bar soaps is that it does not have the chemical polluting the water often found in liquid soaps. Many bar soaps come with organic ingredients, with so many benefits- why not change to bar soap entirely and get rid of all the plastic waste at home, too?  Second, you can make a request to the hotel not to replace single-used plastic hygiene kits. Hygiene kits in hotels, including shampoos, hair conditioners, and hand washes are replaced everyday. Most of the products are single use plastic, which is a great waste of resources since disposable plastic items cannot biodegrade. Ask yourself whether you can finish using the shampoos or soaps within one day. For most of you, the answer would be no. So when you go on a staycation, just call the front desk and tell them there is no need to change your amenities every day!


                There are a myriad of decisions one can choose to make in order to make a positive environmental impact. It does not have to be a big move. And it can be fun, too! Here, the good news is that Soap Cycling is co-hosting a Christmas market with The Green Hospitality from 23rd to 27th of December in West Cultural Kowloon District, and we are selling a variety of handmade MEY soaps. Visiting a Christmas market is great fun! What about giving some unique bar soaps as a Christmas gift for your friends and families this year?  Isn’t it a genuine Christmas spirit, reflecting others on what’s really important in our lives? 


    04/12/2022 - 足本 Full (HKT 08:15 - 08:30)

    04/12/2022 - Kim So-yeon, Student Intern, Soap Cycling