• Fri
  • Aug 22, 2014
  • Updated: 5:52pm
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: 612

"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.

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

72

This article is now closed to comments

damnblunt
how is this HK problem? This isnt a government problem in HK, its a problem for Shenzhen and there parents. If SZ public schools were better, these kids would not ahve to goto HK to get an education.
Also if parents complain, move there kids to HK if its all that important to them. If not goto school in Shenzhen.
L.L.
a kids will learned if he has a love... <3
jkqing
That's why the more Hong Kong schools should be built closer to the border so as to ease the pressure that the HK local school's now facing as well as the pupils who are weary enough.
Children spend much time on travelling to HK, how do they still concentrate on the lesson they are going to hav?
don67
As stated already, these children have a legitimate right to attend a school in HK if that's what their parents want for them. However, I don't think the government has a responsibility (or at least not the main responsibility) in ensuring they don't get delayed crossing the border. The mentality of the parents of these HK born mainland kids is that they see HK's schools as superior so they send their kids here. Think about this, should the government step in with special transport arrangements if I live in the New Territories and want my child to attend a prestigious school on Hong Kong Island? How about a special passage through the cross harbour tunnels just for NT kids? These mainland parents should realise their kids are already very lucky to have the chance to be educated in HK. But in the end, only they can decide if the costs of this choice outweigh the benefits.
lamlm38
if the commies on the mainland could amend the Basic Law they could also take away ur HKSAR passports and give u PRC ones :)
scmpcoolguy
Speak Freely - (cont'd). If you are still gung-ho on removing these HK born students with mainland Chinese Parents the right to a HK education, since any amendment to the Basic Law to remove such right will not be considered by the Central govt., the only option left to the SAR govt would be to submit a reinterpretation of the Basic Law to the Standing Committee of the National Peoples Congress. But again would the Standing Committee of the NPC give the required green light to take away the right to an education in HK to HK born students just because of logistics issues. Im sure you would agree with me China is big on "having face" in the world. Such requests to the Standing Committee of NPC would be a slap on the face of China and turn her into a laugjing stock. The real viable option left is for the mainland authorities and the SAR govts to jointly work out these logistics issues.
impala
As stated below, complete and utter nonsense. There is no such thing in the Basic Law. There is nothing stopping the government from insisting on a simple public policy principle: public services (like education, healthcare, public housing etc) that are provided by a certain municipal, regional or national government are only available to residents of that municipality, region, or nation.

Hong Kong has a separate education (and housing, and healthcare, and so on) policy and a separate budget (including taxation) from the mainland. In short: a different system. One country, two systems remember? To allow residents of one system access to the public services of the other system is pure madness and anybody could have figured out ages ago the kind of problems this would lead to.
scmpcoolguy
Speak Freely - I guess u're not too familiar with the Basic Law of HK which stipulates all HK citizens are entitled to the right to education. Should the HK govt. deny these cross-border students the right to a free education just like the right automatically available
other HK children born to HK parents, the SAR govt will be in breach of the Basic Law. If you want to take away the right of these HK born students whose parents are mainlanders and hence have to commute daily across the border, the only option is to change the Basic Law - which is a non starter since this requires consent from the Central govt. FYI, the central govt have not allowed any amendments to the Basic Law since the founding of the HKSAR.
boondeiyan
Where do you come up with the notion that _any_ government is on the hook to educate students come hell or high water?
.
In HK there is no explicit legal protection for the right to education in the Basic Law. Article 39 applies the United Nations' International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to HK; this Covenant in turn provides for the right to education. Given the convoluted arrangement by which this "right" exists in HK, your premises of 'automatic' availability of education and the government's supposedly cast-iron responsibility to provide the same are far-fetched.
impala
Blatent nonsense. Where does it say this in the Basic Law? There is absolutely nothing in the Basic Law that gives 'Hong Kong citizens' (there is no such thing, but anyway, that is another issue) the right to education. Where do you get stuff from? Dreamt it up yourself I suppose?

Does this imaginary right also apply to 'Hong Kong citizens' in Vancouver? Shall we open schools there too? I invite you reference the article in the Basic Law you think it says this.

You have this completely backwards anyway. There is no ordinance in Hong Kong that stipulates a 'right to education.' Every child in Hong Kong MUST go to school between age 6 and 16, constituting 9 nears of compulsory education: 6 primary school years, and at least 3 secondary school years.

To facilitate this, the government runs schools outright and finances many others. And note that the law applies to ALL children in Hong Kong. It does not matter if they have a permanent right of abode or not, or whether they are Chinese citizens or not. An 8-year old girl from Timbuktu who moves here with her parents on a dependent visa for a year also must attend an acceptable form of schooling, just like anybody else present in HK must obey all local laws or face penalties.

So please stop confounding the issue. The cross-border schooling problem is entirely the result of a flawed policy set up by our the previous CE. And it could be reversed very easily. No need to chang the Basic (or any other) Law for this.

Pages

 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or