• Sun
  • Nov 23, 2014
  • Updated: 7:58am
CommentInsight & Opinion

Locals-only in Hong Kong schools will send the wrong message

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 January, 2013, 5:33am

Hong Kong parents can heave a sigh of relief after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced that the policy of no delivery bookings for expectant mainland mothers whose husbands are not legally resident here will be maintained in the longer term. But that does not mean the tension arising from an influx of children born to mainland parents will soon be over. The zero-birth quota will not stop children who have obtained the right of abode by being born here from returning to study.

The pressure is apparently shifting from maternity wards to primary schools near the border. As more parents living in Shenzhen choose to send their Hong Kong-born children to study in the Northern District, it creates mounting competition with local children, with some being forced to study in schools far away from home. Internet chat rooms have been flooded with abusive language against mainlanders. Protests similar to the ones targeting cross-border parallel traders are under way. Officials cannot afford to sit back and do nothing.

The government is under growing pressure to curb the influx. It has been suggested that locals should be given priority in school admission. Given Leung's pledge to take care of Hong Kong citizens' needs first, the proposal is hardly surprising. The "local-first" mentality is already reflected in the zero-birth quota for mainland mothers and "locals-only" flats.

The chief executive is perhaps right to say babies born to non-local parents will have an impact on our education, medical and other services. But he has every reason to resist giving locals priority in schooling. Children who were born here but live across the border are not different from locals in terms of their status. They are also permanent residents, with the same rights to education and other services before the law. Any different arrangement based on their parents' background or where they live is discriminatory and open to legal challenge.

Hong Kong prides itself on being a city with equal opportunities. Instead of keeping the children away, preparing for their arrival is a better approach. The government previously expected that up to half of the 200,000 mainland children born here may return to study. But recently, education chief Eddie Ng Hak-kim conceded that the number could have been over-estimated. A review is needed to ensure there will be enough school places for eligible children on both sides of the border. They should have equal access to the school they prefer.

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This article is now closed to comments

Camel
Equal opportunities and equal trade;s meaning is also: Taking and Giving. If I only take but do not give, that is an unequal trade. I do pay a lot of taxes every year. I would hate it, if I couldn't get my kid into a decent school in my area, just because the school is dealing with lots of admission applications and need to do a lottery to chose, because kids from other area are using "unlegal" ways to cheat into the schools, especially if their parents do not contribute anything to HK. The Mainland kids can come to study in HK, but then they should attend private schools or the public schools should charge them. That would be an equal trade.
lamlm38
on avg these women have to spend like 100K HK$ to give birth here.. i dont know what the avg HK ppl pay in taxes per yr but this amt sounds like alot dont it?
Camel
Most hospitals especially puplic hospitals are relying on public funding and government subsidy to be able to charge only HKD 100.
mcheung
Yes, these women may be paying like HK$100K to give birth here, but the money goes to the pockets of the rich who runs the hospital, while the tax dollars (little as it may be) of the average Hong Kong people go to government coffers which is used to subsidized schools.
SpeakFreely
"Hong Kong prides itself on being a city with equal opportunities." Are you sure mr. Editor?
We only have 2 supermarket chain because of no competition. Our lazy developers made tons of money without competition form international players. Even milk powder supplies we have no competition? We don't even have a competition law here in HK!
This is not a matter of equal opportunities as it was not equal. Parents of the mainland kids whom are Hk people but their parents never pay Hk tax so it is not equal. Even in US, you have to pay different fees if you are from in state or out state as they using the principals of matching contribution from parents in terms of tax paid. U need to prove your residents by supplying tax info. So California residents will need to pay more tuition if studying in NY state and vice versa.
Please HK people stop using this so call equal or fair rules to prove we are fair but on the other hand letting the monopoly to such as supermarkets and developers to run this place. Are we using double standards here?
Camel
Those Mainland parents of the kids attending to HK schools do have the registry proof of residency in the area in HK. This is a must for the application to every primary school in HK.
Also many HK residents if they want their kids attending famous and good schools located in another area than where they are living, are using most of the time the registry of relatives and grandparents, who are living in that area to apply for a place. The Mainland parents do the same. They, as well, do have relatives in HK and use their address to apply for primary school admission. they just state that their kid is living in HK under this address.
The problem is, that the education authority and government entities never check on those families. Maybe because they are doing the same thing and let their kids attend school in an area they are not entitled to. If the government just only check whether those kids are really living in that area and so entitled, the majority would have been already expelled from the schools. But the government is to ineffective, unwilling and lazy reg. to this case. Maybe they just don't want to check as this would also apply to many HK Families.
sunnymedina
Excellent response!
HK_eh!
Hear hear. This is an academic pretentious editorial.
Yes, let's increase schools, hospitals, etc to handle the influx. Are they paying taxes or supporting the local HK economy or free-loading? The burden will be borne by those who live and work in HK.
There is no problem with anything, milk powder, maternity beds, schools, property, in MODERATION. Problem is, HK is a city of ~7M, if only 0.05% of China invests/buys/uses HK resources, that's 6.7M people right there. China already has 1M millionaires.
Do we need to paint the picture for the government & SCMP?
donniemcm
Well equality is true when we are talking about residents.
But bear in mind that unlike other resident local children, they don't pay the tax here hence are putting the system in danger as, same as for the milk formula, it creates a non scalable demands.
lamlm38
HK gov should speed up building more schools n hospitals.. I mean S'pore gov imported ard 1 million chinese (ard 25% of their entire pops) last 5 yrs yet they dont hv such problem..

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