SCMP Friday, August 4, 2000

College covered for $1m to cope with placements

GARY CHEUNG


A popular sixth-form college has taken out a $1 million insurance policy to protect itself against claims over any accidents in the scramble for school places next Wednesday.

Po Leung Kuk Vicwood K. T. Chong Sixth Form College, the first and only fully aided sixth-form college in the SAR, will provide 360 Form Six school places for candidates of the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination.

It is expected that thousands of candidates will rush to the school in Tai Kok Tsui when the examination results are released on Wednesday.

Principal Dr Darnay Chan Siu-kui said he had paid about $1,000 for the insurance cover, which will last for one day. He said: "The pressure is definitely mounting. I feel much more at ease after purchasing the insurance."

Last year, thousands of students and parents queued outside the college from the early morning and two parents fainted on the steps. The school received 2,000 applications, exceeding by nearly six times the number of places available.

Although no one has taken legal action over injuries suffered in previous crushes at the college, Dr Chan said he felt the insurance policy was necessary to ensure peace of mind.

Dr Chan called on students and parents not to queue outside the college on Wednesday. "We will not use the first-come, first-served principle in admitting students. All candidates will be admitted according to their examination results," he said.

"Students whose results are below average should not try their luck. It is a waste of time. Candidates without result slips will not be given application forms. It is useless to come too early."

Dr Chan admitted he would be powerless to stop the queues if people ignored his warnings. "Hong Kong is a free society. If people want to sleep outside our school, we can't stop them," he said.

The college has already held discussions with the Education Department and police on arrangements for Wednesday.

Vice-principal Lai Lau Wai-han said the college would open its sports area and all classrooms to handle the expected deluge of students.

"We have bought three tents for the admission procedures. We will let the students go inside if too many people gather outside the college," she said.

The college will reserve 54 places for students from linked secondary schools and the rest will be available for other students. The results of the applications will be released at 2pm the same day.

The college was founded in 1991 and offers sixth-form courses in science, arts and business studies.