Research shows one fifth of schools are near casinos

Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Issue 511, Page 4
Word count: 511
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The latest research commissioned by the education department showed that 20 percent of local schools were within 300 metres distance from casinos and a majority of students could enjoy a “very limited” free space at schools.

According to Dr Chan Iat Neng from the Macau University of Science and Technology who conducted the research to review Macau’s school space and environment in 2007, 20 percent of the 100 schools surveyed were “close to” or within 300 metres from casinos.

However, Wong Kin Mou, the chief of the educational research and resources department at the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ), told the media yesterday as the locations were already a “fact”, they should now focus on moral education in order to prevent students from being affected by gambling.

Mr Wong also said that the government had announced earlier this year that existing casinos would not be allowed to expand on current sites and slot machine venues would be required to move out of the community areas gradually.

On the other hand, Dr Chan said the study found that each student occupied an average area of 2.47 square metres of free space at schools which reflected that most of the schools had “very little” leisure space.

Despite the seemingly restricted areas, Mr Wong said the result of 2.47 square metres had already improved and reached the goal set out in 2004 in the school construction guidelines.

In 2002, the average free space enjoyed by each student was 1.59 square metres.

In addition, Mr Wong said in 2007, each student shared a school area of 9.42 square metres, up by 2.28 square metres in 2002.

Last year, each student was registered as occupying 1.62 square metres in classroom, which Mr Wong said had exceeded the goal of 2004 at 1.43 square metres and the 2002 result of 1.26 square metres.

Thanks to the declining birth rate in recent years and the support of the DSEJ for campus expansion or reconstruction, Mr Wong said local students were starting to enjoy more space at schools.

However, he admitted that there were still some schools which were “over crowded” but an increase in school areas would have to rely on urban planning and old districts renewal projects in the future.

Although the research indicated that local schools had reached the standards on average, Mr Wong said some individual schools might have failed in certain aspects and thus the DSEJ would provide them with assistance in order to improve school environments.

On the other hand, the moral education advisory group held its ninth meeting yesterday to discuss related policies for the non tertiary education sector.

Chief of the DSEJ moral education centre, Leong Sut Ian, said the objectives were to foster children and youth’s sense of belongingness to families and schools, recognition to the nation, positive life values, cognition of bad influences of gambling, drugs, pornography and violence, international horizons and environmental awareness, as well as other kinds of civic awareness.

Ms Leong said the policy outline was passed to the education committee for a two-week consultation.

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