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  • Oct 18, 2014
  • Updated: 12:42pm
NewsHong Kong
EDUCATION

Cross-border chaos as children face 4-hour journey to Hong Kong schools

Jams at checkpoints on first day of term mean trip to school for some weary pupils takes 4 hours

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 September, 2013, 12:34pm
 

Poll

  • Yes: 27%
  • No: 73%
3 Sep 2013
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 613

"Will it always be like this?" sighed Sun Yuk-hom, more than an hour late for school on the first day of term yesterday after a 4-1/2-hour journey.

The six-year-old rose at 5am at his home in Longhua, Shenzhen, to get ready.

But despite his early start he did not reach his school in Tai Po until almost 9.30am after delays at the heavily congested Man Kam To border crossing.

"I got up so early but now I'm late," he said. "I'll wake up early every day from now."

His story was typical of many of the 16,000 pupils - 3,000 more than last year - who crossed the border to attend Hong Kong schools. Many were late because of chaos at the crossings, which were jammed with buses ferrying the children to school.

Their plight brought a call for government action to seek ways to ease the journey and reduce the stress on the children.

The driver of Sun's bus - which took 29 pupils to Lam Tsuen Public Wong Fook Luen Memorial School - said there were about 20 nanny buses at Man Kam To, three times the number last year.

Ho Man-keung said it took him an hour to pass through the Shenzhen side because only one bus lane was open. "There were never so many students crossing Man Kam To," he said.

"Maybe the border control officers in Shenzhen didn't expect this either and were quite ill-prepared. The Hong Kong side was much better."

It took him 25 minutes to cross the Hong Kong side.

The International Social Service sent out workers to check five of the six crossings and found pupils, parents, carers and school staff had been there since 6am.

Cheung Yuk-ching, director of the organisation's cross-boundary service programme, said it was chaotic at most crossings, with parents separated from their crying children, carers identifying pupils and school staff waiting anxiously.

"Futian and Shenzhen Bay were especially bad," she said. "There was wave after wave of nanny buses." She said the government should seek ways to improve the situation and provide after-school support.

Schools are under pressure from an influx of children born in Hong Kong to mainland parents as well as the children of local families living across the border.

Another pupil at Sun's school, 10-year-old Xu Haiyu, was up at 5.30am and got on a bus that took 33 pupils through the Futian crossing. They were 10 minutes late for the 8.15am assembly.

It then took her three hours to get home to Futian at about 3.30 pm - ending a 10-hour odyssey.

"She looks very tired every day," said Xu's mother, Hong Sixia. "She'll fall asleep immediately after she hits the bed in the evenings at about 8.30pm."

Teacher Chiu Pui-fan said they tended to miss most of the first class - starting at 8.30am - in the first month of every school year because it took time for parents, buses and in-bus caretakers to adapt to the schedule. "Last year, a parent of a cross-border child told me he had nightmares every night," said Chiu. "He didn't get enough sleep and had few friends because he didn't know much Cantonese."

The school has taken about 20 new cross-border children this year in addition to the 60 previously enrolled.

Another bus taking almost 30 pupils to Yan Chai Hospital Choi Hin To Primary School in Tai Po via Futian was also late, and the children missed the school's back-to-school ceremony.

Education minister Eddie Ng Hak-kim, who visited a school in Tai Po, said the cross-border pupils' journey was generally safe and smooth. Undersecretary Kevin Yeung Yun-hung visited three border crossings.

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This article is now closed to comments

whymak
For heartless, hate-mainland SCMP readers here, this 5-year old from the mainland on Youtube is anyone but you could love:
****www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiFlbuYPcqk&feature=youtube_gdata_player.
What the f! Maybe we should hire this little Chinese boy instead of foul mouth Ms. Lam to teach HK children English.
ow4126
Chinese students should study in Mainland China. Hong Kong students deserve first priority for schools here.
lamlm38
@mbophui.. i was a HK resident some yrs ago until my parents 'decided' for me to migrate :) my heart is still here in HK.. but i was mainland born like so many of our HK compatriots!!!
Camel
They should have known this earlier. They attend HK school for almost free and yet start complaining? Why should more HK taxmoney should be spend to improve their situation? I know that these pupils now have no possibility to attend local school in Shenzhen as they as a HKID cardholder do not have Hukou for Shenzhen. But that is their own fault. Hopefully this serves as a lesson for others who think only for the advantages to give birth in HK.
whymak
I see nothing but angelic faces of children in this picture. Readers' consensus here is one of disgust: Send them back to where they belong!
From my Bible class - Knox version - in Form 5 at St. Joseph's College eons ago, some words still ring loud and clear: "Let little children come to me and forbid them not, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."
While yours truly, now a faithless geezer, is vilified as an apostate, he is not the least bit annoyed. But the Satanic words from many readers here show how our city has been transformed into a joyless land by a Universal Values Credo and take-no-prisoner Democracy animus that promise a future bleaker than the Cultural Revolution.
Readers understand nothing about rule of law in the West. Yet they render a judicial opinion, and worse, you are hubristic enough to interpret what is or isn't required in Basic Law.
In the absence of customs within common law, we must honor the constitution as the letter of the law. When ambiguities arise, they must be adjudicated in our courts. Final conflicts in judicial opinions are resolved by the nation's Central Committee. This is the process of judicial precedence.
By refusing to implement Article 23 legislation, HKers defy our constitution and deny our courts the opportunity to test the soundness of legislations that must be written in the spirit of Basic Law.
The more readers talk about Basic Law, the more they demonstrate their lawlessness and judicial ignorance.
lamlm38
obviously they sent u to the wrong bible class.. u heartless SOB!!!! should send u to hell instead!!!!!
kaman.tsang.14
y our HK goverment is responsible for the cross-boader chaos? It is surely a wastage of HK tax payer money. The best way to avoid being late for school is to study in their country,Mainland. not HK. I understand they have their rights studying in HK but can those parents and students just stop complaining in which they have already known the long time journey to school?
whymak
Kaman.tsang:
From what you're telling us, you're illiterate. Do you know the name of your country? Do you know the name of your father? If not, ask your mother.
lamlm38
sigh.. just in case u forgot HK is part of China now.. what the fish do you mean ur own country?
johnh
@lyono:
You're not from Hong Kong, are you

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