Hundreds of mostly mainland parents thronged kindergartens close to the border yesterday hoping to secure admission application forms for their children.
People formed long queues, but places were also reserved using chairs, umbrellas or even pieces of cardboard, outside kindergartens in Tuen Mun and North District, which are due to give out admission application forms later this week or next week.
Outside CCWF King Shing Kindergarten in Fanling, parents, mostly speaking Putonghua, started lining up as early as Tuesday for their chance to get one of the 150 application forms for admission in September next year.
"I feel very tired, but if I don't line up and others do, then my kid won't get a place," said one Shenzhen parent, who had queued for four kindergartens in the past five days.
A local parent who waited outside a kindergarten in Sheung Shui said: "We have to line up earlier. There are so many mainlanders now."
Kindergartens distribute and collect application forms according to their own schedules.
Education Secretary Eddie Ng Hak-kim said the 241,000 kindergarten places available should be sufficient. He appealed to parents not to apply to several kindergartens or rush to elite schools.
"After the implementation of the pre-primary education voucher scheme, the quality of participating kindergartens is assured … [parents] don't need to target certain ones," Ng said.
Rosa Chow Wai-chun, chairwoman of the Early Childhood Educators Association, said competition for places at kindergartens in districts near the border was expected to be keen.
"The number of kindergarten places the education minister quoted is citywide, but from what some principals in the North District told me, most of their schools are full," she said.