• Thu
  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 6:47pm
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
 

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  • Yes: 27%
  • No: 73%
3 Sep 2013
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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.

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This article is now closed to comments

swami.vas
HEART OF HONG KONG: It does not matter who bears responsibility for this chaos affecting so many toddlers but it is indeed undoubtedly cruel that they are forced to undergo what may be termed torture at their tender age! Hong Kong and the Mainland authorities are not beyond means to find an acceptable solution to this!
crbfile
Hong Kong does not float on a cloud, it relies entirely upon Mainland China for its prosperity. Please remind yourselves of that fact. If there are any Mainlanders who want a Hong Kong education, HK has enough, more than enough prosperity to seed these fertile minds with great HK values. The people arguing against this are brainless.
swami.vas
HEART OF HONG KONG: One is not here concerned so much about the quality of education and values instilled in kids attending Hong Kong schools but the hardship undergone by the little ones!
superdx
China is great. Achieve the China Dream. Stay in China.
lamlm38
HK is part of PRC now just in case u didnt notice.. dont like it then too bad
superdx
OOh I get it now, China dream = HK. How highly you think of us. Remember to pay your taxes like the rest of us!
supremeleo
The parents should be responsible for their irresponsible arrangement to their children. No one invite or request these children to study and live in two sides of the border.
If someone request the government to implement administrative policy to ease the pressure suffered by these children, please do not ignore those HK pupils whom were allotted to study in outlying islands.
swami.vas
HEART OF HONG KONG: What pricks one here is not why some parents prefer their children to be educated in certain style of education, merits or demerits of it side, but what the innocent kids have to undergo to receive that education! There ought to be better understanding of the situation and a lot better arrangements for the kids to attend schools they are enrolled in with least inconvenience!
Giwaffe
Those kids should not be accepted into HK schools, that's the whole point. Innocent kids would not be suffering if this was implemented.
Shadow
very important issue to bring up SCMP really appreciate your efforts
people are living more worse than animals in SAR and begging for their very basic living rights that you cant see, may be the reporter has his/her children to cross every day so he/she make this story.
SCMP you can put your recommendations to govt to remove this boundary so every one can move freely then you will see what will happen,
SAR don't have sincere leaders/don't have planning for any thing, but corruption and abuse of power on high rise every where in departments.
if these corruptions are beyond ICAC then may their master need to interrupt to look after this side also

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