• Sun
  • Apr 20, 2014
  • Updated: 10:26pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 October, 2013, 4:58pm

As adults squabble, children suffer

When you combine inexperience, incompetence and ideology, you get a mess like the mass hysteria over kindergarten placements in north New Territories. But isn't this the story of post-1997 Hong Kong?

Unused to so many applicants, many kindergartens are simply overwhelmed. They lack staff and resources to handle the long queues. Many have trouble sorting out how to hand out forms to hundreds or even thousands and then arrange interviews to select students. Only a minority of schools allow unlimited downloading of forms, but many parents don't trust the online service.

Is the government responsible? Well, up to a point. Surely it has some leverage in encouraging or helping kindergartens to use a more equitable and efficient system to avoid queuing. But education chief Eddie Ng Hak-kim said it's no-can-do because many schools are private. But many are non-profit schools so all local parents receive subsidies in the form of government vouchers. If it is paying most tuition, surely the government has some say. But faced with another crisis, Ng again proves useless and hides behind Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's skirts, who tried to calm things yesterday.

Meanwhile, many have blamed mainland parents for the crisis. Well, it's legal to take their Hong Kong-born children to study across the border. However, some mainlanders have denounced the screening interview as unfair because the schools do it in Cantonese. Some schools allow the parents to translate for their Putonghua-speaking children. Alas, many mainland parents are not conversant in Cantonese. I am sorry, but this is a Cantonese-speaking city and most if not all the classes are conducted in the local dialect. If your children can't handle it, why send them over?

Do we have enough places? Yes. Even the anti-government Professional Teachers' Union admits there are enough places, only much tighter than Ng allows. Sensing blood, the PTU used its own biased figures to challenge the government without offering any solution. Neither did the Neo Democrats who protested against the government. These opportunistic pan-democrats just want to embarrass the government. Meanwhile, suffer the little children.



This article is now closed to comments

HK perhaps may consider opening up similar kindergartens across the border to help the children living in the Mainland in Mandarin or Cantonese. Our future children may want to be fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese, see no issue with this; like Switzerland, German and French speaking!
Well said, AL
" I am sorry, but this is a Cantonese-speaking city
and most if not all the classes are conducted in the local dialect.
If your children can't handle it,
why send them over?"
You should repeat that to non Chinese / Cantonese speaking expats
non-residents who demand subsidized native English education
and those who can't handle local Chinese / English medium schools
Yes you're right about the expat situation. As long as they pay for it they can have whatever language they like, but don't expect subsidies. That can equally apply to this situation. If a kindergarten sets itself up privately as Mandarin speaking then there should be no problem whatever the local language.
Common sense gives validity. The use of it costs nothing. The forbid use of it costs us dearly except for a few who actually benefited by deterring us the use of it. I can say so for the subprime housing in US. I can say so for our life in Hong Kong that what a mess Hong Kong is. I don’t envy CY Leung being the Chief Executive if good helps and good citizens are all difficult to come by.
God saves Hong Kong particularly its children.
Yes, maybe we do have enough places, but I would hate it to send my few years old kids every day on a 5 hours commute to get to and from the kindergarten in a far district from my home just because in my area the kindergarten are full. HK residents living in the district of the location of the target kindergarten should enjoy priority handling.
In HK, common sense no longer works. I listened to radio this morning from the sort of president of kindergarten Union, she basically never got to the points. Alex, if Lam is so good, why can't she come up with a practical solution but just "comfort" the parents? Common sense is simple: kids should be placed according to where they lives and government should help verify that via tax data in the last 3 yrs not just based on address being used. If parents are trying to registering 10+ schools! the simple solution is government offer an online systems to limit a max of say 3 schools per child based on their ID or birth certificate. That's common sense and easy to implement.
I also watched the interview with this president on Now TV over the weekend. She blames parents for over-reacting and in my opinion she isnt fit to hold the position of president. Parents rightly fret over the education of their children and if there is no refined system in place you cannot blame them for queueing all over the place. For Eddie NG to simply state there are enough places to go around is insane. It must be accompanied by a system that apportions places to the children. I recall him saying the number of places exceeds overall demand by around 100. If no apportionment is in place this buffer is simply not enough.
To send kindergarten aged children on a daily journey of 2 x 2 hours into an environment where the poor children don't understand a word (Cantonese) is actually a form of child abuse. Shame on their parents.
A responsible and professionally acting Kindergarten shouldn't accept any child that has to travel longer than 45 minutes door-to-door.
What's the standard time for Primary school students and Secondary school students?
My question - again - :
Why are non-resident children eligible to anything here in Hong Kong ?
Even in China a child cannot visit the school in a province it is not a legal resident of. Why does Hong Kong has to accept non-residents from a neighboring province ?



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