Open new checkpoint to help cross-border pupils, say groups

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 September, 2007, 12:00am

Educational organisations and parents' groups want officials to help solve the problems of children who have to cross the border from the mainland every day to attend schools in Hong Kong.

The call came a week after a four-year-old child was found alone and crying at the Lo Wu checkpoint.

Concern groups met education, security and transport officials yesterday and called on authorities to open up the Lok Ma Chau spur line interchange to allow school buses to pick up and drop off students at the restricted zone.

An Education Bureau spokesman said the proposal was not feasible but they would continue to monitor the situation.

'We have to point out that the size of the interchange is limited and situated within a nature reserve. Traffic volume is under strict control ... at the moment it is not convenient to allow school buses to provide services at the Lok Ma Chau spur line interchange,' he said.

The four-year-old, who lives in Shenzhen and attends a Sheung Shui kindergarten, had got off her school bus to go through the immigration checkpoints last week. She was due to reboard with other children on the Hong Kong side but she went missing.

The incident has raised concern among parents who say their children face long travelling times as well as safety issues in making the journey to school.

In the 2006-07 academic year, 4,500 children travelled across the border to attend school in Hong Kong.

The Education Bureau spokesman said the number had risen this year but the government did not have an updated figure.

It is understood that there are more cross-border students this year following the introduction of the education voucher system that provides subsidies for children to attend qualifying kindergartens.