Education Bureau still makes new schools buy typewriters, VHS players

A graphic to give a sense of some of the old kit prescribed for new schools by the Education Bureau uploaded to Facebook by education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen

Really Education Bureau? Typewriters?

In this, the age of virtual reality, atom smashers and endless movie streaming, bureaucrats overseeing the education sector are copping some criticism for making it mandatory for new schools to buy equipment straight outta the 1980s.

We’re talking electronic typewriters, cassette players, VHS tapes and fax machines that only send faxes (as opposed to those all-in-one space age copy/scan/fax contraptions).

The prehistoric equipment is prescribed in lists available online, which set out what new campuses can buy, from chairs and tables to stage curtains and “electric tea urns.”

Quick to pounce was Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen, who — during a press briefing held yesterday afternoon — took the bureau to task for the “ancient” gear failed to meet the needs of, well, modernity.

“Equipment in schools in Singapore have already entered into the future, but Hong Kong is still in an ancient era,” he said.

According to the lawmaker, the bureau also made it hard for schools to deviate from the standard items, requiring time-consuming justification for purchasing alternative, perhaps newer, items not on the list.

The dismay at the rigid lists and outmoded gear is also shared by principals.

One, Paul Cheuk Tak-kan from the Tung Wan Lok Mok law Shui Wan School in Lantau Island — which is building a new campus — told reporters that he had difficulty even finding some of the items listed for sale.

Meanwhile, many of their proposed purchases were rejected, he said, as they apparently didn’t conform with the specs.

In a response sent to Ming Pao, the Education Bureau acknowledged that the furniture and equipment reference list “had not been fully reviewed for some time” and “some projects may no longer meet the current learning and teaching needs.”

You don’t say.

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