#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

    Katie Wong, Chief Officer (Elderly Service) The Hong Kong Council of Social Service


    As the population ages, more people find caring for their elderly loved ones falling on their shoulders.  While the population of Hong Kong increased only by 5% between 2011 and 2021, the population of centenarians, people aged 100 or more, increased by more than 6 folds.


    In light of the rapid increase in the population of adults of advanced age, say nonagenarians and centenarians, in collaboration with The University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Shue Yan University, The Hong Kong Council of Social Service recently conducted the second round of the Hong Kong Centenarian Study (with the first round taking place in 2011) with 151 families and found that most caregivers of centenarians are their children, with many of them being between 65-74 years old (43%). 


    This phenomenon of “the elderly caring for even older seniors” is common in Hong Kong.  It poses significant challenges, including physical fatigue, emotional stress, social isolation, and financial burden, adversely impacting caregivers’ health and well-being.


    The biggest challenge faced by elderly caregivers is physical and mental fatigue.  Caring for a loved one requires a lot of strength and energy, which can be even more taxing for elderly caregivers with health issues.  They may have to frequently lift or support a frail loved one, provide assistance in daily living, and perform other tasks that can strain their bodies continually.


    Emotional stress is another challenge, particularly when caring involves complex or arduous needs.  For example, tending to a loved one with dementia or other cognitive impairments requires infinite patience and constant attention, which can be frustrating and overwhelming. Many caregivers wish to see their older loved ones through and are motivated to provide as much care to their older relatives as possible. Despite such high motivation to care, their strains may elevate to a point where their mental and physical health is compromised, which is when nursing home placements are considered.


    Caregivers may also feel isolated and burnt out, as they often have to sacrifice socialising with friends and family or their interests.  This can spiral into depression and anxiety, further exacerbating their struggles.


    The financial burden is another challenge that elderly caregivers may grapple with, especially those who are retired and living on a fixed income.  In other words, their financial resources, whether from their own children or governmental subsidies, are often shared with their older loved ones. The study mentioned above showed that 83.2% of caregivers had a monthly income below $30,000, and 70.5% of respondents earned below the poverty line of $20,000 for a 4-person household (CSD, 2020).  48.3% of caregivers expressed financial pressure.


    So, what can be done to aid elderly caregivers facing these problems? Here are a few suggestions:


    1)            Seeking out community resources, including respite care, support groups, and counselling services.  Elderly caregivers should also reach out to family and friends for help, as small gestures can make a big difference.


    2)            It is also essential for caregivers to prioritise their health and well-being by taking time for themselves, pursuing hobbies and interests, or getting mental health support when needed.  Caregivers who look after themselves are better equipped to watch over their loved ones in the long run.


    3)            Sometimes, it may be necessary to hire a professional caregiver to assist with the needs of a loved one.  With the advance in technology, some products help, such as fall prevention equipment and health-monitoring smart devices. Caregiver subsidies or financial subsidies for using Gerontechnology in the community would help.


    Taking care of an elderly loved one can be arduous and emotionally draining, particularly for caregivers themselves, seniors.  By seeking out available resources, asking for help from family and friends, being mindful of self-care, and appraising professional assistance, elderly caregivers can get the support they need to navigate the challenges and provide the best care possible for their loved ones.


    And now I have a song I'd like to dedicate to all of you listening. My song is: You’ve Got a Friend by Carole King



    04/06/2023 - 足本 Full (HKT 08:15 - 08:30)

    04/06/2023 - Katie Wong, Chief Officer (Elderly Service) The Hong Kong Council of Social Service