Mainland Chinese pupils to get Hong Kong school places
Hundreds of schools in northern New Territories are to set aside two places per Primary One class for cross-border children
Andrea Chen and Shirley Zhao
Hundreds of schools in Tuen Mun, Yuen Long, North District and Tai Po will have to reserve at least two places in every Primary One class for cross-border pupils in the next school year, education authorities say.
The new scheme is meant to ease pressure on North District schools, which are overloaded with children from the mainland.
It involves public schools in eight school nets, where at least 900 first-year places for these pupils will be set aside, Undersecretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said yesterday.
Schools in Ma On Shan and Tung Chung, which enrolled a substantial number of cross-border pupils in recent years, were also welcome to join the scheme, Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim said yesterday.
But the initiative may not meet demand for schooling from the mainland. This year, over 1,700 of the 3,000 new cross-border pupils were allocated to Sheung Shui, Fanling and Sha Tau Kok - the towns closest to Shenzhen. That left North District short of 1,400 places for local and other cross-border children.
Yeung said schools would be able to apply for more designated places for the pupils.
"The new allocation scheme will allow parents [of cross-border pupils] to choose primary schools from various districts," Yeung said.
"We are confident it will be more efficient than limiting them to one school net."
Under the current system, parents of cross-border pupils without a permanent Hong Kong address can apply for schools in only one of the eight school nets.
In view of the distance, most parents living in Shenzhen put North District as their first and only choice, forcing a number of local pupils living in that district to attend schools in Tai Po.
The bureau would release the final school list and total number of places available before January, when primary school places would start to be allocated centrally, Yeung said.
Chan Siu-hung, chairman of the North District Primary School Heads Association, said schools located far from the border, such as in Tung Chung, might not ease the pressure on North District. "Parents living in Shenzhen who are dissatisfied with the allocation may end up waiting outside North District schools [for spare places] if local pupils don't take up all of our places on offer."
Education-sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen suggested having two or three school nets for cross-border pupils based on the distance they would have to travel, so they can go to a nearer school.