18th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) Rosaryhill School, a well-established institution with a history of 64 years, including its Primary School and Kindergarten, will undergo a phased merger with Dalton School Hong Kong starting from the next academic year. As part of this merger, Rosaryhill Secondary School, which falls under the jurisdiction of Dalton School Hong Kong, will cease operations after the 2025/26 school year. The school management had previously cited enrollment difficulties as one of the reasons for the closure, but Principal So Pui Ting and the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) issued separate statements yesterday (17th) to refute these claims.
A Grade 10 student expressed that during a parent meeting on Saturday, the school supervisor addressed the closure arrangement. However, she argued that this year’s Grade 7 classes had more than 15 students each, indicating no enrollment issues. She believes the decision to cease operations is selfish and disregards the feelings of students and teachers. She feels saddened by the thought of leaving after three years and is currently planning to transfer to another school.
A Grade 8 student remarked that the school has offered support for middle school students in the form of transfer assistance. This student was shocked by the impending closure and emphasised the dedication of the teachers, expressing concern about the potential impact on learning after the transition to a new school.
A substitute teacher who had been covering classes for two months mentioned that they were unaware of the school’s decision to cease operations, and the news came as a “disastrous” revelation for the students. The teacher also noted that the school administration addressed the closure during a morning assembly, taking into consideration the emotional well-being of both students and teachers.
Father Ho Yau-Sun, the supervisor of Rosaryhill School representing the school management association, has sent a letter to parents, teachers, and staff members in response to the controversy surrounding the decision to cease operations of the secondary school section after the 2025-26 academic year. In the letter, he mentioned that the reasons for the closure included the continuous decline in the number of students enrolling in the secondary school, with no signs of improvement. Additionally, since 2019, there has been a significant 65% decrease in enrollment at the kindergarten and primary school, which has put immense financial pressure on the school management and resulted in fewer students transitioning to secondary school. To ensure a smooth transition and safeguard the well-being of students and staff, the school management has implemented a comprehensive set of measures, including the formation of a transition committee for the secondary school and seeking assistance from other schools.
Previously, Rosaryhill School had posted a statement online stating that student numbers were increasing and there were no enrollment difficulties. However, this statement was later removed. The Rosaryhill School Parent-Teacher Association also sent letters to the school management association and the Education Bureau, emphasising that the school did not experience a decline in student numbers and questioning the decision to cease operations as not being in the best interests of the school and the students
In the statement, it was mentioned that since the announcement on 15th September, there have been numerous concerns and questions raised, particularly regarding the decision to close the secondary school. Ho emphasised the importance of prioritising the well-being of students and staff, acknowledging that the announcement of the closure for the 2025/26 school year has caused stress and negative emotions within the school community. However, he requested patience and cooperation from all parties, urging them to work together to ensure a smooth transition and protect the best interests of all stakeholders involved.
While acknowledging that some people may question the decision to close the secondary school, Ho emphasised that it was not an easy decision and was not taken lightly. The decision was made with consideration for the overall interests of Rosaryhill School, including the kindergarten, primary school, and secondary school, rather than focusing solely on individual units. Over the years, the school management has been actively seeking viable and sustainable solutions. The decision was based on the following reasons:
- Stagnant Enrollment Rate for Secondary School Students:
The number of secondary school students has significantly decreased from over 2,000 during its peak to approximately 400 students. Despite multiple subsidised schools closing down in the past two years, enrollment at Rosaryhill Secondary School has continued to decline by 6% since 2019, with the current student population being less than 20% of its peak. Unfortunately, this downward trend has persisted without any signs of improvement.
- Sharp Decline in Primary School Enrollment:
Since 2019, there has been a shocking 65% decline in enrollment at Rosaryhill Kindergarten and Primary School. This substantial decrease has not only put immense financial pressure on the school management but has also resulted in a reduced number of students transitioning to secondary school.
- Shifting Educational Landscape:
There have been significant changes in the education landscape in Hong Kong, including a structural decline in secondary school enrollment. This decline indicates that a substantial increase in expected student numbers in the foreseeable future is unrealistic. This broader trend not only affects Rosaryhill but also impacts the entire education system in Hong Kong.
- Financial Sustainability:
The long-term financial sustainability of Rosaryhill Secondary School must be taken into consideration. With stagnant enrollment numbers, the school management faces the challenge of maintaining a high-quality education within a limited budget. While the government has provided ongoing support, this assistance is contingent upon long-term student numbers.
- Future Planning:
Given the structural decline in student numbers, proactive measures need to be taken by the school management to address these challenges. It is crucial to make decisions from a long-term perspective to safeguard the heritage of Rosaryhill and ensure its continuity in some form, rather than waiting until it is too late.
Ho emphasised that in order to facilitate a smooth transition during this challenging period and ensure the well-being of students and staff in the secondary school section, the school has implemented a comprehensive set of measures:
- Transition Committee for the Secondary School:
A plan is underway to invite members from the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and representatives from the secondary school to form a Transition Committee. This committee will collaborate with the school management to devise the best possible strategies to facilitate the transition for students and staff.
- Seeking Assistance from Other Schools:
The school management will actively seek assistance from other subsidized schools to accommodate students and ensure they can find suitable alternative educational institutions. Additionally, communication has been initiated with the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong to support teachers in gradually securing positions at other schools.
- Continuation of Operations:
The secondary school will continue to operate for the next three years to allow students in Forms 4 to 6 to complete their secondary education, while students in Forms 1 to 3 will complete their junior secondary education.
- Transparent Communication:
The school management pledges to establish open and transparent communication channels with teachers and parents to promptly address any concerns or issues that may arise during the transition process. Regular updates and information sessions will be conducted to keep everyone informed.
- Support for Students’ Emotional Well-being:
The school will prioritize the emotional well-being of students during this transitional period. The counselling team will be available to provide support and guidance to students, ensuring they have a smooth transition and are equipped to handle any challenges they may face.
Ho concluded the statement by expressing regret for the lack of timely communication and the negative impact it has had on the school community. He acknowledged the concerns and questions raised and assured all stakeholders that the school management is committed to working together to ensure a smooth transition and protect the best interests of the students and staff. He emphasised the importance of unity, cooperation, and understanding during this challenging period.