My Take

Why not have Hong Kong schools in Shenzhen?

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 August, 2013, 3:01am

Our government loves international schools. So it's not clear why it doesn't jump at the idea of setting up our own schools on the mainland, that is, the equivalent of Hong Kong running its own "international" schools.

The idea was first floated by Michael Tien Puk-sun, a veteran political operator and a Hong Kong delegate to the National People's Congress. It will address the problem of children born in Hong Kong to a mainland parent or two who send them over the border to attend local schools.

This has created competition for school places in North district and forced some locals to attend out-of-district schools, another irritant that is causing growing resentment against mainlanders. The Ministry of Education is receptive to the idea. Shenzhen authorities are keen to study it. If they go ahead, such schools would indeed be like international schools because they would be categorised as "schools for foreigners" in Shenzhen. Such schools will also benefit Hong Kong children of Hong Kong parents living in Shenzhen. What's not to like?

In a reply, the bureau said: "The suggestion [involves] a complex topic and has deep-seated impact, so we must study it in great detail and with careful consideration." That's bureaucratic talk for saying we are not interested.

One concern is that the population of such children in Shenzhen and southern provinces will decline. Actually, it's more likely that they will rise. The border separating us will not be closed forever. In any case, what's wrong with operating international (Hong Kong) schools? Until recently, that was in fact the original definition of international schools in Hong Kong - a school that is funded by the government of its country and follows its national curriculums.

The government here is always encouraging others to open more international schools. Why not try it ourselves on the mainland? If they are well run, you never have to worry about not having students.

Of course, the people who actually run the bureau - and I don't mean our ever clueless Eddie Ng Hak-kim - are among the most conservative, retrograde and unresponsive bureaucrats in the government. They are averse to any plan that might challenge the existing system and status quo.