Hong Kong is always looking for ways to overcome the shortage of space in the city. One way is to make the most of schools by opening up their playgrounds and sports facilities at weekends.
However, a 2016 study by Baptist University found only 23 per cent of the 138 local secondary and primary schools surveyed open their sports venues to the public outside school hours, a figure that lags far behind many other places. But this has begun to change.
In her maiden policy address last October, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government wanted to encourage schools and the community to work together more. She proposed a scheme to open up more school facilities to the public outside of school hours and on weekends.
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According to an Education Bureau spokesperson, the scheme currently has received 130 applications from schools ; if enrolled, they will receive subsidies that help cover extra school staff, strengthen security arrangements, and to pay for utility costs.
The voluntary scheme, which was launched in October, is expected to run till around July.
School principal Clark Chan Cheung-lam says the move can provide society with more resources and promote a sports culture in the community.
“These are the school’s existing properties, it would be a waste not to fully use them,” Chan said.
Sports associations using the facilities have to reserve a quarter of the places in their programmes
for students, teachers and parents of the schools involved.
Chan describes it as a win-win. “It allows schools to push students to proactively participate in sports while at the same time we can optimise all resources benefiting the community at large.”