• Sat
  • Nov 29, 2014
  • Updated: 6:37am
NewsHong Kong
EDUCATION

Public schools may give families in Hong Kong priority

Education chief says giving preference to families in Hong Kong is one of the options being considered amid mounting competition for places

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2013, 7:33am
 

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Admissions priority for local families is among measures being considered in response to pressure on public school places from Hong Kong-born children living on the mainland.

Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim revealed the possible option yesterday but gave no timeframe - despite the long queues of families seeking Primary One admissions in the past weekend.

He said thorough consideration must be given before privileges are handed out to anyone, and policies must be fair to all.

"We have clearly heard the opinions from parents of North District about prioritised allocation [for local families]," Ng said yesterday when asked about the issue. "The Primary One Admission Committee will give a fair assessment."

Ng said tender processes had begun for expansion of several schools in the Sheung Shui area.

The pressure is especially acute on public schools in Sheung Shui, where there is an estimated shortage of 1,000 Primary One places because of its proximity to Shenzhen.

The demand for school places is coming from local families, Hong Kong families living across the border and children born to mainland families - with the latter amounting to some 200,000 in the past few years.

Ng told a radio programme last night that he thought more than 40 per cent of children born to mainland families could return to Hong Kong for education.

Priority has already been given to local people at public hospital maternity wards amid warnings that the strain put on public resources by mainlanders could stir tension between Hong Kong and Beijing.

North District Primary School Heads Association chairman Chan Siu-hung said yesterday that giving priority to local families was unfair to those residing in Shenzhen, who are also eligible for education in the special administrative region.

North District councillor Lau Kwok-fan said the opposite, saying it was fair and not at all discriminatory to give lower standing to families who had chosen not to live in Hong Kong.

He added that even if prioritisation could not be adopted this year, with the allocation exercise already started, it could be done next year.

After years of falling student numbers, Hong Kong this year saw an increase of 4,000 children eligible for primary education, to about 50,000.

Many of the families living on the mainland prefer to send their children to one of some 30 primary schools in Sheung Shui because of their proximity to the border points of Huanggang and Lo Wu, making a one-day return trip possible.

While there is no overall shortage of public school places in Hong Kong, the current centralised allocation system allows parents to apply for schools outside the districts they live in, causing a concentration of students in some districts and under-enrolment in others.

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9

This article is now closed to comments

SpeakFreely
Hk government or people are so confused with the definition of so called equality. This is not an issue of equality as even mainland kids are legal HKers but their parents are not working here and not paying tax they should not be treated equally. Period.
likingming
Develop the NE of New territories to meet the housing needs and education needs of HKers or would-be HKers.
Camel
Of course they should give families living in HK priority. There is no question about it.
Furthermore, they should consider to charge school fees for the admission of students of families not living in HK. Puplic Schools are funded and financed mostly by taxpayers and with government subventions. People not living in HK and registered in HK are not paying any taxes or contributed anything to the city's society should pay for using the cities puplic education system. That is how they do it in Mainland as well with the Hukou system.
ninacheung
It should be a two-way street; mainlanders should not be able to just enjoy the benefits Hong Kong offers if they are not contributing anything to our society by working and paying taxes here. Totally agree with councillor Lau Kwok-fan, if you choose to live in Shenzhen, then send your kids to school there also!
midsfo
Would that mean priority would be given to permanent residents only or expat kids will benefit as well?!
Byebye
Agreed with you Speakfreely. China is now a rich country, they can build their own school to Hong Kong standards. If needs be, they can tape the expertise from Hong Kong. Hong Kong certainly has a supply of retired, still healthy experienced educationists / teachers.
SpeakFreely
Even in US, there are in state and out state fees, why can't we put priority to locals as parents paying tax vs. the mainland kids parents are not. It is matching principle matching responsibility/ obligation against benefits.
boondeiyan
Careful what you wish for. How does one become "in-state" in the US? Buy a property. Out of the frying pan into the fire...
SpeakFreely
Simple if you live in NY state and want to study in California you are not instate. Not just buy a property you need to actually live there unless you treat.

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