• Fri
  • Sep 19, 2014
  • Updated: 5:16am
CommentInsight & Opinion

For the sake of children, build Hong Kong schools in Shenzhen

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 3:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 8:55am

An influx of mainland schoolchildren with the right of abode became controversial last year because they took scarce school places in areas near the border, forcing local pupils to travel to schools outside their home district each day. Now the situation is reversed, with many Hong Kong-born children of mainland parents, and children of Hong Kong parents resident on the mainland, being forced to commute for an hour or more to schools in Tuen Mun, Tin Shui Wai, Tung Chung and Wong Tai Sin.

This is a result of government policy aimed at using the allocation system to ease cross-border pressure on North District schools. The number of Shenzhen children who failed to win places in their top three schools of choice hit 33.6 per cent this year, causing consternation among some mainland parents who found their children would be going to schools they had never heard of. This distributes the burden of travel more evenly, but a more lasting solution is called for.

For years, thousands of children have crossed the border for a Hong Kong kindergarten, primary or secondary education. Some rise absurdly early and some of tender years carry heavy schoolbags back and forth. The government has now tapped schools in eight catchment areas to provide 3,000-odd places for cross-border children, relieving the burden on North District. The situation remains unsatisfactory from both sides.

The mainland Ministry of Education has been looking into the option of Hong Kong setting up government schools in Shenzhen. It faces two problems of perception that have foiled previous attempts to provide schools in Shenzhen with Hong Kong teachers and curriculum. Parents are not convinced that it is the same as a Hong Kong education. And local teachers remain reluctant to go to Shenzhen to work. While there is always room to reform and fine-tune the student allocation system, the best idea is for the city to work with the mainland to provide the right environment for educationists to set up Hong Kong schools in Shenzhen.


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This article is now closed to comments

It's embarrassing to read how "rich" the mainland has become, yet it cannot build an educational system.
Hong Kong people will just have to live with the inconvenience of having a (educational) system superior to that of the mainland.
Do the parents of these commuting children pay HK taxes? If not, should their kids be using our facilities?
Umm - what percentage of HK resident workers pay tax ?
I just checked. 60% of the working population do not pay tax. Extraordinary. People should stop demanding that the Govt should do this and that for them then.
60% of the working population do not pay SALARY tax. That does not mean they do not pay other taxes. We all pay taxes, directly and indirectly.

Every purchase at every shop in Hong Kong implies you contribute to that business' profit tax, which is factored in in their retail prices as a cost of doing business. Same when you take taxi, or order something from the internet. Or eat in a restaurant.

They also pay their staff's MPF contribution, and the staff's (other) wages are decided in a labour market where salary tax is applied. Whatever -for example- your bank (or your dry cleaning, or your dentist etc) charges you for its services is indirectly determined by how much it has to pay its staff to provide you those services, which in turn is affected by the level of salary tax the government levies. Your spending is someone else's income you see.

And then there are rates and stamp duty you pay if you own a property. I you rent a property, your landlord pays those, and of course the monthly rent reflects this.

Simply put: if you participate in the economy (and every resident does), you pay taxes, if not directly, then indirectly.

And in that sense as well, the idea that families who otherwise don't spend a penny in Hong Kong, who don't live here, don't work here yet do send their children to go to school here is ludicrous.
To Will.i.am - You are in China! If this is so bad and unbearable to you, perhaps it is time to move somewhere else.
I don't need you to tell me I am in China, but public services in HK is not meant for Mainlanders, period. Happy?
The HK born children of mainlanders already have the right to attend international schools on the mainland. Why should the HK government build schools for them to attend for free? There is no law in HK giving the right to free education to every HK resident. There is only a law requiring every child actually residing in HK to attend school, regardless of nationality. I don't understand why the government is bending over backwards to accommodate those children living on the mainland. (Well I kinda do, it's all part of the plan to slowly replace most of the Hong Kongers in HK with mainlanders who grew up under communist rule, who "Love the country, Love the party"
Editor Wang strikes again for the CCP. The most prized feature of a good education system is the promotion of a free exchange of ideas. Under the CCP, that means a good many people must end up behind bars. Any education in the mainland will be sanitised. Wang rushes to swell the ranks of support for any idea that promotes CCP influence in Hong Kong. It's embarrassingly obvious.
To Ian… / johnfra,
Tell me why you are so sure that Wang wrote this editorial. Nameless editorial never can compare with named one for conviction and foresight. I don’t know if SCMP has adopted editorial writing by committee and with perhaps unequal vote for each editorial.
I don’t mind if editorial siphons off from the postings. It is simply an honest way in making the value why we have comments.
I was a frequent letter writer in SCMP before the current editorial board with one letter published almost daily. One particular time, I have two with one letter changed to name supplied by SCMP. Few occasions, my sent letter was not in the paper but it reappeared in the editorial almost instantly without any acknowledgement. Those were the dark days for me without the postings service that we have now which at least writers get some satisfaction that the comments are in the public.
The editorial is the paper's own comment under the direction of its editor. Of course, it need not have been written by him but it would be unusual for it not to reflect his views and not to have been approved by him personally before publication.
john, keep a copy of your contribution and the next time one of your letters goes mysteriously missing and turn up later under a different name or editorial, then come back again attaching your original letter so that your followers/admirers will know what is what. Good hunting !
SCMP, what took you so long to come up with this idea? I've said so in the "Comments" before alluding to Shenzhen school-children wasting a lot of their time which they could usefully spent studying, and clogging-up Immigration officers' checking them back and forth each school-day, to simply build Hong Kong schools in Shenzhen catering also for Staff Quarters for Hong Kong teachers to be accommodated over there. There are plenty of land in Shenzhen for this purpose and its a win-win situation for all.
I congratulate you SCMP for at least drawing attention to this now, late though it is.However, our Government and so-called Lagg-gist lators (way too late) haven't even thought about it yet.
For the sake of the children, restrict the right to attend Hong Kong schools to children actually resident within the territory. These cross-border travelling children hold the RIGHT to residency (their HKID) in HK, but they are not using it. They don't actually live here for crying out loud, and neither do their parents. Why on earth should they be allowed to attend schools here? If they want to, then let them actually move here.

It is a ridiculous policy to allow non-residents to attend our schools. It is illogical from a tax revenue-expenditure point of view, it is non-sensical from a legal perspective, it is perceived as injustice by actual residents, and it is clearly numerically unsustainable. End this idiotic policy and solve all the problems associated with it, including the long travel times for the children.

Or where else are we going to build Hong Kong schools for HKID-holding children? There is plenty of those around the world you know. Vancouver? San Francisco? London? South Africa? The North Pole?
This is the nightmare created by cheap Tsang. Many people have no idea how bad it is, go to any hospital and look at the paediatric department, you'll think you're in China!
My daughter stayed two nights in Queen Mary and of the 8 beds in her ward, 5 were with both parents mainlanders. And this is on HK island, can you imagine NT hospital!
Well, with the current zero tolerance for mainland mothers coming here to give birth, the need for a school in SZ will be gone in a few years; or, in other words: by the time the HK govt. decides to do something.

However, this should be a moot issue as the "right" to attend a school in HK belongs to HK residents, not to HKID card holders living elsewhere.
Nowadays even US colleges are setting up branch campus in mainland. There is no reason why Hong Kong can’t build and run schools in Shenzhen for an even better reason – easing the over-enrollment of students from Shenzhen in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong government is not facing up the problem. And why it is so is up to everyone’s guess. For me I will not exclude incompetent and laziness of those in the government who actually can make border-crossing education a reality.
It will not be easy to set out a right curriculum for the right of abode kids politically but try you must. There must be some attractions for right of abode parents to assure full enrollment is not a problem.
Get off your armchair and follow your legs to Shenzhen and begin talking with your neighbor across the border in Shenzhen and Beijing.
PS This is a rather late editorial in uging for cross border schools. But rather late than being indifference.


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