The government has decided which four schools will relocate to the area earmarked for education facilities on the plot of land where the former greyhound racetrack is located, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon Weng told lawmakers Monday.
The government told the operator of the former greyhound racetrack – Macao (Yat Yuen) Canidrome Co. Ltd. – in July 2016 to vacate the property in Fai Chi Kei within two years.
The government pledged at that time that the plot would be used for educational, sports and community service facilities after the Canidrome’s demise.
The racetrack was finally closed at midnight on July 20.
The government is currently looking after about 400 greyhounds still left behind at the racetrack’s kennels by the company. Most of the dogs are slated to be sent overseas for adoption, a process that is ongoing.
Tam first told the legislature late last year that the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ) had proposed to the government’s public works and planning entities that four schools be built on the area designated for educational facilities on the plot, following the closure of the racetrack. He said at that time that the proposed four schools would include a special needs school.
In August this year, officials of the Lands, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) revealed details of a development plan for the plot where the former greyhound racetrack and the adjacent government-run Lin Fong Sports Centre are located, according to which the plot will be earmarked for sports, education and community service facilities as well as government office buildings.
Delivering an introductory speech yesterday on the first day of a two-day Q&A session about his portfolio’s policy guidelines for next year, Tam said that after a study and discussions with schools which run their classrooms on the lower floors of high-rise buildings, the government has decided to designate the area earmarked for education facilities on the plot of the ex-Canidrome for the new campuses of the Workers’ Children High School, Xin Hua School, Santa Madalena School and Concordia School for Special Education.
According to the development plan presented by DSSOPT officials in August, an area of 8,000 square metres on the plot at the corner of Avenida do General Castelo Branco and Avenida do Conselheiro Borja will be designated for education facilities, basically covering the area where the greyhound kennels are currently located. The whole plot covers about 40,000 square metres.
The government has previously said that the government’s proposal to build four schools on the former racetrack’s plot would allow several schools with their current facilities on the lower floors of high-rise buildings to finally move into their own buildings.
Some local schools still do not have their own campus, having their classrooms on the lower floors of high-rise buildings.
The government launched its “Blue Sky Project” in 2016 to tackle the problem, when it said that it planned to solve the problem in 15 to 20 years.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of yesterday’s plenary session, Tam pointed out that three of the four schools – Workers’ Children High School, Xin Hua School and Santa Madalena School- are situated in the peninsula’s northern district, adding that the average area shared by each pupil in these three schools is small and that they are located less than 250 metres from the plot of the ex-Canidrome.
Concerning the Concordia School for Special Education in Nape, Tam said that its current facilities conditions are not good, adding that special needs pupils should have the right to enjoy an open-air campus allowing them to see the blue sky.
Tam also said he was confident that the government can announce next year the new locations for new campuses for the other schools currently running their classrooms on the lower floors of high-rise buildings.
Tam said that during the government’s discussions with the schools running their classrooms on the lower floors of high-rise buildings, some of them said that they prefer to relocate their campus in the future to the plots planned for education facilities in the new reclamation area off the north-eastern coast of the peninsula officially known as Zone A.
According to The Macau Post Daily during the plenary session, the policy secretary also said that Macao was internationally regarded as having an education system that is of high quality and also ensures fairness to pupils. He said that 93.8 percent of Macao’s schools are covered by the government’s free education network for the school year 2018/19, an increase from 88.1 percent for the school year 2014/15.
The percentage of pupils covered by the free education network increased from 84 percent in the school year 2014/15 to 91 percent in the school year 2018/19, he said.