Catholic Church set to sue the government over education

Bishop Zen Ze-kiun, Catholic Bishop of Hong Kong, said to be ready to file a lawsuit against the government for breaching the Basic Law if the notorious “Education (Amendment) Bill 2002” will be passed by Parliament (Legco), tomorrow.

“The Church is set to sue the government because according to Basic Law article 141, religious organisations may continue to run schools according to their previous practices. We must sue the government over this blatant violation”.

In the last few months Catholic Church, Anglican Church and some Protestant Churches in Hong Kong have repeatedly asked the government to withdraw a bill moving to a full and direct control of the government over school management.

The bill, in fact, requires every government aided school to form a School Management Committee (SMC) with individual legal entity (for now the SMC belongs to the Sponsoring Body (like the Catholic Church, and some other NGO), breaking the cooperative relationship between the two parts.

Catholic Education Office held a sharing session, yesterday, that attracted some 200 educators, parents and alumni of Catholic schools, and a dozen of journalists to join.

At this session Bishop Zen said that the bill, once enacted, would bypass the Sponsoring Body, calling for direct intervention of the Government, thus bringing negative effects to Catholic Education.

The bill aims at enhancing teacher/parent participation in school management and promoting the transparency of school management, but Miss Alice Woo, the Episcopal Delegate of Education, said Catholic schools in Hong Kong have already work for these aims with significant achievements, and the existing education laws and norms have already make such monitor on government aided schools.

Zen also criticised the government’s offer to delay full enforcement of the bill to 2012 as meaningless, stating the law was badly drawn.

The Catholic Church will hold a candlelight vigil outside the Legislative Council tonight to pray against the legislation. “We know that the bill will pass with so many pro-government legislator sitting on Legco”, Bishop Zen said, “but what we are praying for is a miracle. We apple to Liberal Party to vote according to their conscience, like they did last time to vote down Article 23” [against sedition].

There are some 320 Catholic education institutes in Hong Kong, together with the schools run by the Protestant church bodies, the number of schools with Christian background means half of the schools in the city.