03/23/2009, 00.00
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Hong Kong Catholic schools in danger

The education bill provides for state interference in the management of private schools. The Church says that the provision risks distorting the mission of schools connected to religious congregations and orders.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The diocese of Hong Kong is in suspense over the future of Catholic schools on the island. The concerns are caused by the Education Bill Amendment approved in 2004, according to which every school that receives economic support from the government must set up School Management Committees, with a legal value separate from that of the educational institutions (Sponsoring Bodies).

The government maintains that this permits greater transparency and more democracy, while the private school administrators say it is only a maneuver to allow them to interfere in the management of the schools, which would distort them to the point of eliminating the Catholic element.

Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, the archbishop of Hong Kong, has repeatedly expressed his concern by saying that the government provision does not recognize the contribution that Catholic schools make to society. Now the Sunday Examiner, the diocesan weekly, has brought the problem up again in the fear that the Catholic schools will not be able to enjoy the exemption from the bill that had been guaranteed at least until 2012.

The Sunday Examiner stresses that the model proposed by the government in order to improve the teaching and management of many schools risks being counterproductive for Catholic schools, the value and prestige of which are recognized by Hong Kong society.

The schools of the diocese place special emphasis on promoting religious, ethical, and spiritual values in their curriculum. If the more than 200 schools that are connected to the Church did not have the freedom to continue according to this approach, their mission would be ruined, and this would damage the entire society of Hong Kong.

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