HK sets cap on cross-border pupils at 13,000

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 May, 2012, 12:00am


Hong Kong will limit the number of mainland children crossing the border to attend school to 13,000 from next year, the chief secretary says.

This was to prevent children born to mainland parents in Hong Kong from swarming schools, Stephen Lam Sui-lung said yesterday.

The city now receives several thousand cross-border pupils, who pass through restricted zones on special permits. The Security Bureau says it needs to impose a cap in expectation of a greater influx due to the higher birth rate among mainland parents in Hong Kong.

The plan was likely to include providing direct shuttle buses to drive the 13,000 pupils from their living areas to school premises in Hong Kong, Deputy Secretary for Security Ngai Wing-chit said.

The extra arrangements were being discussed with mainland authorities, Ngai said. Officials did not say how the 13,000 would be chosen.

North District Councillor Lau Kwok-fun said this would do little to deter pupils crossing the border.

'The government needs to understand why they are coming to Hong Kong for education. It's not because it's convenient to do so,' Lau said.

'They have the right to receive education in the city, and the government needs to take care of them.'

He was worried that the children's safety could be undermined if they failed to get special permits and tried to enter in other ways.

Mable Chan, deputy secretary for education, said it was because of safety issues that the government discouraged cross-border schooling.

About half of mainland parents who have given birth in Hong Kong intend to let their children return to use public services, government statistics show. Officials have said it was difficult to gauge the number of such children - 170,000 in the past 10 years - who would require extra resources.

Lam noted that education was not the primary reason many parents wanted their children to be born in Hong Kong. They also wanted their children to get Hong Kong passports.