Local kids to get priority in race for Hong Kong's preschool places
Children living closest to sought-after border kindergartens could be offered places ahead of mainlanders if demand outstrips supply
- Yes: 93%
- No: 7%
Education authorities and kindergarten principals in districts close to the border say they will consider giving priority to local parents for limited preschool places if demand exceeds supply.
The decision, made at a meeting yesterday, comes as increasing numbers of mainland parents flock to border schools in search of places for their children.
Around 60 principals of kindergartens in Tai Po and North District attended the meeting.
If demand outstrips the available number of places, the preschools will consider admitting those who live closest first, said Kwok Chor-kiu, chairman of a local principals' association.
"This is a consensus among us," she said.
Benjamin Yung Po-shu of the Education Bureau said after the meeting that most principals also agreed that parents should be able to access application forms online and there should be measures introduced to prevent parents taking multiple places in different schools.
Wang Yongjun flew to Hong Kong from Henan province last Wednesday to try to secure a place for his son. Wang was one of the first parents to queue up outside Fung Kai Kindergarten in Sheung Shui, where more than 1,500 people have been waiting, some since Saturday, to apply for 240 available places.
Including Fung Kai, Wang has applied to eight kindergartens. His son was born in Hong Kong but does not speak Cantonese.
"My heart will go completely dead if my son can't get into a kindergarten here just because he's not living here," said Wang. "I'm now submitting to the will of heaven. Sometimes I regret having had a child here."
Wang said he would be willing to sell the several properties he owns in Henan, close his company and move to Shenzhen if his son got into a Hong Kong kindergarten.
First in the queue outside Fung Kai was a grandfather from Lo Wu in Shenzhen. He had arrived on Friday and spent the last four nights sleeping in a nearby park. He said it would be worth it as long as his two granddaughters could get into the preschool.
A relative said she had spent HK$1,000 buying a language learning gadget for her grandson to help him learn English to prepare for his interview.
Local parents were frustrated by the government's inaction on the growing chaos.
Mandy Sham Hoi-yan said she had camped overnight outside five different kindergartens and would continue applying for more. She said she was so angry that she wanted to beat up Education Minister Eddie Ng Hak-kim and swear at him.
Michael Wu Ho-yin said he had quit his job with a monthly salary of HK$30,000 to apply to kindergartens for his son. He had so far managed to get seven application forms.
Fung Kai council chairman Ma Siu-leung said the kindergarten had given out 1,600 forms by 3pm yesterday and would give out the rest today. He reassured parents that there would be enough forms and every parent who got one would have a chance of an interview.