A state newspaper on Monday rejected claims that children born to mainland parents were putting a strain on educational resources in Hong Kong.
Only 10 per cent of cross-border students in Hong Kong were born locally to mainland parents, Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily claimed in article published on Monday, adding that this figure had only risen about 1.6 per cent since 2006 when the figure stood at 16,000.
Other cross-border pupils in Hong Kong, the article said, had at least one Hong Kong parent, or had parents that were living across the border in Shenzhen.
The newspaper quoted Fung Kai No 1 Primary School principal Liu Chi-leung as saying most of his students were from Hong Kong and only 40 students in the school were born to parents without permanent residency – most of which were in primary one and two.
“If all students are from Hong Kong, then competition for education resources does not exist," Liu was quoted by the People’s Daily as saying.
The People’s Daily article also quotes Wai Chow Public School (Sheung Shui) principal Chan Shiu-hung as saying only 10 students at his school were born in Hong Kong to non-Hong Kong permanent residents.
Education sector legislator Ip Kin-yuen said earlier this year that pressure on public school places from Hong Kong-born children living on the mainland would continue to grow. He said it had not reached a “peak level” yet.
Ip called on the Education Bureau to devise a plan to deal with the imminent surge of cross-border students as it would increasingly become a bone of contention in mainland-Hong Kong conflicts.
Lawmaker Gary Chan Hak-kan of the New Territories East constituency said the People’s Daily story downplayed the seriousness of the situation.
Chan said forming the argument based on interviews with just two elementary schools was a sweeping generalisation and the real proportion of students born locally to mainland parents was much higher in other districts such as Tuen Mun, Hong Kong's Sing Tao Daily reported on Tuesday.
The number of cross-border kindergarten pupils for 2011-12 was 5,700 – more than cross-border primary pupils who numbered about 5,300. In the same period, 70 per cent of almost 13,000 cross-border students were in North District, even though they accounted for only 1.35 per cent of the total number of Hong Kong students. Nearly a quarter of primary pupils in North District are cross-border students.