Grant School (Hong Kong)
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Grant School is a special type of secondary school in Hong Kong. According to the current legislation, “Grant Schools” are referred to “any secondary school which receives subsidies in accordance with the Code of Aid for Secondary Schools and which was, before 1 April 1973, in receipt of grants in accordance with the Grant Code”. (Cap 279C) They were established by missionaries and churches in nineteenth and early twentieth century, and receive grant-in-aid from the government to operate, thus named Grant Schools.
The emergence of Grant Schools is related to a specific historical context. When the colony of Hong Kong was established as Britain's trading outpost in the Far East, the need of local education for trade as well as administer the territory were found. However the colonial government was not able to provide a sufficient education as needed. After the passage of Elementary Education Act 1870 by the imperial parliament, which allowed state funding to Church schools, the colonial government followed suit and adopted the similar measures to provide public education by limited financial resources.
The resulting 1873 Grant Code is a product of the aforementioned development. It regulates the criteria for admission to the grant-in-aid scheme and other the standards of the schools. The government also provides land and gives grants to establish schools. In turn the duty of administering the day to day operation of the schools fall into the hand of the missionaries. Grant-in-aid from the government provided only part financial income for the schools, donations and tuition fees are other sources to finance the schools. The government thus have the church to shoulder the financial and administrative burden of providing education, and in turn the church have another platform to expand their missionary activities.
The number of Grant Schools peaked at the end of 19th century, with more than 100 schools receiving grants under the Grant Code.[Note 1] The majority of the Grant Schools by that time were the vernacular schools which provided Chinese education. Nevertheless, these vernacular schools were criticized by the school inspectors for their appalling academic performance. Students were near-illiterate and could not handle subject knowledge. On the other hand, the government introduced a parallel “Subsidy” system (using the Subsidy Code) which was less restrictive. [Note 2] Some schools opted for the new Subsidy and dropped the Grant, creating a fall-off in the number of Grant Schools. As a result, the government decided to abandon the Grant system in 1921 except for a few competent schools. For the newly founded schools after 1921, only the qualified ones were allowed to join the Grant system. They were mostly schools giving Western education in European languages. The remaining schools of the Grant system later formed the Grant Schools Council (see below) and operated till today.
After the introduction of universal primary education (1971) and junior secondary education (1978), the practical differences between the Grant Schools and other Subsidized Schools [Note 3] are little, with the exception of retaining legal distinctions. The Grant Code and Subsidy Code were unified as the Code of Aid (then regarded as “Aided Schools”), government aid is paid regardless of the school origin and prestige. But due to the distinguished history and alumni, the Grant Schools in Hong Kong have established themselves as a tier of elite schools in the territory. These schools prefer to preserve their former identities as Grant Schools.
A number of Grant Schools have recently joined the Direct Subsidy Scheme, another funding programme initiated by the government which allow greater freedom for schools to set curriculum, entrance requirement and tuition fee , in high profile partly due to their dissatisfactions towards the perceived unfriendly education reform policy. These schools included :
- Diocesan Boys' School
- Diocesan Girls' School
- St. Paul's Co-educational College
- St. Paul's College
- St. Paul's Convent School
- Ying Wa College
- Frederick Stewart, the Inspector of Schools, submitted for approval of the government a grant-in-aid scheme offering aids to mission schools, subject to certain conditions.
- The original Grant Code was put into force. The grants were to be paid according to the results of an annual examination on secular subjects conducted by the Inspector.
- The Grant Code was revised to abolish the conditions that enforced secularism in education. Schools run by the Catholics joined the Grant-in-aid scheme.
- The Grant Code was revised, offering building grants for “building, enlarging, improving or fitting up” schools.
- Grants payment by student result was abolished. Grants were then paid according to school inspection reports.
- In the 1914 Grant Code, grants were paid in the form of capitation grant (for each pupil presented for the examination).
- Due to the dissatisfaction of school performances and the intention to increase cost-effectiveness, the government removed most schools from the Grant-in-aid list except for a few competent ones.
- The Grant Code was revised. The new grant-in-aid scheme paid the difference between the approved expenditure and income from school fees and other sources.
- A provident fund (Grant Schools Provident Fund) for teaching staff was introduced in the revised Code, as one of the earliest teacher welfare benefits in Hong Kong.
- Owing to the outbreak of war, the implementation of the 1941 Grant Code was suspended.
- The 1941 Grant Code was fully implemented.
Mid to Late 1950s
- The government took gradual steps to unify the Grant and Subsidy systems. The Subsidy system, originally targeted at primary schools, was modified to provide suitable aid for secondary classes.
- The last member of the Grant system, St. Paul's Secondary School, was placed on the Grant-in-aid list.
- The White Paper on Educational Policy made a clear recommendation that a unified code of aid shall replace the Grant and Subsidy Codes.
- The Code of Aid for Secondary Schools was put into force. The Grant Code became defunct.
Grant Schools Council
The Grant Schools Council was formed in 1939 to reflect the interests of the Grant Schools. Consists of the headmasters and principals of the Grant Schools, there are currently twenty two members. The Council is highly critical of the education reform in recent years, as they see this as an attempt of the government to destroy these “relic institutes from the former dynasty”.
Grant Schools Represented in the Grant School Council
- According to the annual reports submitted by the government, in year 1893, there were 102 schools under the Grant Code in total.
- The aim of the Subsidy system had fundamental differences compared to the Grant-in-aid system. According to the annual reports of the Education Department, it was to provide a more cost-effective manner of school aid.
- Subsidized Schools refer to schools which received government aid according to the Subsidy Code. See Background and Note 2 for more information.
- Formerly called Diocesan Home and Orphanage.
- Formerly called Italian Convent School.
- Formerly called St. Paul's Girls' School.
- The school was suspended in 1899 and re-opened in 1909 as a non-government school.
- Formerly called French Convent School.
- Formerly called Wah Yan Branch School.
- Formerly called Training Home for Girls.
- Hong Kong Government. "Report of the Inspector of Schools, for the Year 1894". Hong Kong Sessional Papers.
- Hong Kong Government. "Report of the Director of Education for the Year 1920". Hong Kong Administrative Reports.
- Hong Kong Government. "Report of the Director of Education for the Year 1922". Hong Kong Administrative Reports.
- Education Department (1981). The Hong Kong Education System. Hong Kong.
- Ng L.N. (1984). Interactions of East and West: Development of Public Education in Early Hong Kong. Hong Kong.
- Hong Kong Government (1893). Hong Kong Government Gazette: 780.
- From the Education Department's Annual Reports from 1947 to 1949.
- Education Department (1956). Annual Summary 1955/56. Hong Kong. p. 18.
- Hong Kong Government (1878). Hong Kong Government Gazette: 102–104.
- Hong Kong Government. "Report of the Inspector of Schools, for the Year 1900". Hong Kong Sessional Papers.
- Hong Kong Government. "Report of the Director of Education for the Year 1936". Hong Kong Administrative Reports.
- Hong Kong Government. "Report of the Director of Education for the Year 1932". Hong Kong Administrative Reports.
- Deduced from the Education Department's Annual Reports from 1949 to 1953.
- Deduced from the Education Department's Annual Summary reports from 1955 to 1962.
- Hong Kong Government (1882). Hong Kong Government Gazette: 582.
- Hong Kong Government (1883). Hong Kong Government Gazette: 196.
- Hong Kong Government (1880). Hong Kong Government Gazette: 273–276.
- Hong Kong Government. "Report of the Inspector of Schools, for the Year 1905". Hong Kong Sessional Papers.
- Hong Kong Government. "Report of the Director of Education for the Year 1919". Hong Kong Administrative Reports.
- Hong Kong Government (1877). Hong Kong Government Gazette: 132.
- Hong Kong Government. "Report of the Director of Education for the Year 1924". Hong Kong Administrative Reports.
- Hong Kong Government. "Report of the Director of Education for the Year 1929". Hong Kong Administrative Reports.
Codes of Aid (1994), retrieved from the Education Bureau's website