Hong Kong’s leader has instructed the Education Bureau to safeguard students’ education after a secondary school announced it is to close in 2026. Incumbent students had publicly pleaded with the government to intervene.

The Dominican Missions, which sponsors the operation of the Rosaryhill School, announced last month that the secondary school would close after the 2025-26 academic year, and new students would not be admitted from the following year. Senior students would be able to complete their studies, but junior students would be transferred to other schools after Form Three.

Rosaryhill Secondary School. Photo: Committee on Home-School Co-operation.
Rosaryhill Secondary School. Photo: Committee on Home-School Co-operation.

In a letter dated September, 15, the school’s supervisor, He Yousun – a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong – announced the news, citing declining student enrolment and changing government regulations.

Chief Executive John Lee told reporters on Monday that he has instructed the city’s education chief Choi Yuk-lin to “properly handle the matter.”

“This is not what the Education Bureau would wish for,” he said in Cantonese of the school closure. “[I] have given the Education Bureau several principles: One, to safeguard students’ education; Two, the sponsoring body should communicate with students and parents to find suitable solutions; Three, any measures should be conducted steadily; Four, the bureau should fully assist any affected students for transfer.”

Lee’s remarks came after a short-lived video was posted on the school’s public social media channels last week, in which dozens of Rosaryhill students in their uniforms openly pleaded to Lee and the Education Bureau to step in: “As president Xi said, ‘when there is a future for the youth, there is a future for Hong Kong,'” a student representative said in the video, referring to the speech made by Chinese leader Xi Jinping during his visit to the city last year.

Rosaryhill Secondary School students pleaded the authorities to intervene in the slated closure of their school in a short-lived video. Photo: Screenshot.
Rosaryhill Secondary School students pleaded with the authorities to intervene in the slated closure of their school in a short-lived video. Photo: Screenshot.

“We hope the Chief Executive will be concerned about our future, and give us a chance,” he said in Cantonese.

They asked the authorities to pay attention to the 400-odd existing students and provide them with a new campus, “so that we can pursue our education in a familiar setting, under the guidance of our familiar teachers,” the student representative added.

But the video was soon removed. In a response written in Chinese on Monday, a spokesperson from the Education Bureau told HKFP that it was “deeply concerned” about the matter and urged the school’s sponsoring body to maintain close communication with stakeholders, and to pay attention to student needs.

The spokesperson said school campuses were distributed according to an established mechanism, with eligible sponsoring bodies invited to bid. Regarding the situation at Rosaryhill, the Education Bureau said it would assist parents and students with transfers.

School closure

Last month, Kentville Kindergarten, which called itself “one of the city’s highly respected and regarded private kindergartens,” announced it would close down in three years.

“All-time low birth rates” and the “emigration of young families” were among the challenges the school faced, according to a statement released last Friday.

Kentville Kindergarten
Kentville Kindergarten in Kowloon Tong. Photo: Kentville Kindergarten.

There were 27,996 fewer students at the start of the last academic year compared to 2021, according to HKFP’s calculations in July based on the Education Bureau’s annual enrolment statistics report.

Chief Executive John Lee said in July that the decline in student enrolment was a “structural problem” linked to population flow. It was also a result of the city’s low birth rate, he said.

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Hans Tse is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He was previously a researcher at several universities and wrote about local politics and media transformations. He holds an M.Phil in communication from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.