• Sat
  • Jul 12, 2014
  • Updated: 12:32am
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.

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This article is now closed to comments

lamlm38
i think the point no.2 is just plain silly argument.. it's not that the parents of these kids dont want to pay taxes here but they are not allowed to in the first plc!!! if these parents are allowed to reside and live in HK would they not be paying taxes in some ways? the HKers would just assume that these parents are beggars when they can afford hundreds of thousands of $ to give birth here.
mrgoodkat
So now we should allow the parents of those illegally in HK born children to reside here as well? Nobody forced the Mainland parents to have birth here in HK and nobody forces them to send their children to HK to school. They could just as easily go to school in Shenzhen. That's a problem created by the parents themselves and the government should not use our tax dollars to help them in any way. There are bigger problems of HK residents to be solved here in HK.
lamlm38
so ur playing lawyer now? these kids were given ROA so what do u mean by illegally? u guys keep bringing up tax dollars issues.. what is avg HK Joe paying in tax $ every yr anyway? these parents paid hundreds of thousand tax $ in advance to hv the privilege for these kids!!!! get ur head off ur **** fren!!!
mrgoodkat
The parents didn't pay the money to our government, but to the various hospitals and agencies arranging the births.
And by illegally I mean the fact that the Mainland government (who according to most posts here is the master over HK) has already ruled that children born in HK to Mainland parents should not get ROA. But our government and courts in all their wisdom have just disregarded that fact. The Mainland government has also repeatedly stated that having a child in HK is a breach of Mainland one-child policy laws.
lamlm38
the fact they were given the right of abodes here means they are here legally isnt it? dont get your emotions run thru ur head.. what the fish do u mean by illegally born here? like it or not they will come back here in 10 20 yrs time.. by that time these kids would bhave like their forefathers, think like commies on the mainland etc.. i mean these kids are like love childs.. yeah u didnt want them on this earth but once they r here we have to treat them like any other human being.. treating them like it's not ur prob wont make the them go away!!
rpasea
Access to our public schools should be reserved for residents only. Being born here entitles you to live here but not to attend school if you don't.
donniemcm
Well the issue is that now that their lovely parents offer that HKID gift, they can't attend local mainland school.
Good job to those so thoughtful parents.
mrgoodkat
They can still attend Mainland schools if they would be willing to pay a nominal fee. But you get more face by telling your friends your kids are going to school in HK, even if they have to travel 5 hours to get there.
I have friends from Israel who send their children to a local school in Shenzhen, it was no problem for them to get a place and they aren't even Chinese.
lausyman
wow, how long does it take to get from israel to shenzhen?? they must get up very early!
lamlm38
well the whole point of having a HK ROA is that they want to live in HK isnt it? u just dont make much sense :)

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