• Fri
  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 3:10pm
NewsHong Kong

Government can't force kindergartens to take local pupils: education chief

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 October, 2013, 4:08am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 October, 2013, 4:08am

The government cannot force kindergartens to give children living in their local districts priority for places, education chief Eddie Ng Hak-kim said yesterday.

His remarks infuriated parents, coming less than a week after Ng said encouraging kindergartens to take local pupils first would be one of six "emergency measures" to quell an influx of children, born in Hong Kong to mainland parents, into Tai Po and North District classrooms.

"Kindergartens are privately run institutions," Ng said at a meeting of the Legislative Council education panel. "The government can only encourage them."

Ng was responding to lawmakers' questions on how the Education Bureau would handle the influx of children living across the border. Hundreds of mainland parents have queued outside kindergartens to grab application forms, leaving some local parents fearing their children will miss out on a place or have to study far from home.

"[Ng] has been using 'privately run' as an excuse for doing nothing since the beginning," said Zoe Fung Hoi-yan, spokeswoman for concern group Sheung Shui/Fanling Mama Club. "It is he who came up with the policy [of giving priority to local children] in the first place, but now he says he's not prepared to enforce it."

Fung said her group, which organised a protest march in Fanling early this month, would consider doing so again.

The other measures in the bureau's plan include having schools distribute unlimited application forms and offering them online, limiting parents to registering at one kindergarten rather than several, adding school places and aiding parents.

Lawmakers expressed concern that the rush for kindergarten places would spread to other parts of the New Territories.

Ng said he had spoken to principals in Yuen Long about the possibility of adopting the six measures, and would also speak to principals from elsewhere.

He also pledged to open a new round of applications from operators to set up more international schools amid concern from business groups that a shortage of 4,000 primary places in the next five years would deter overseas talent from moving to the city.

He pointed to Harrow International School, which said yesterday it would add extra classrooms in an expansion to be completed next summer.



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Reason is simple. Those children whose parents are not what you designate as "HK people" are in fact HK people - mind you they are in the eyes of law "HK people", holding valid permanent residency ID card of HK, granted by the Hong Kong Government by reason of not Central Govt's choice but, I stress, HK court's decisions. Who really is the author of their own misfortune?
To have a child of kindergarten age traveling daily for more than 45 minutes door-to-door to attend kindergarten would be diametrical to the well-being of a child that age.
How could the government issue a license to a kindergarten which allow a daily traveling time that is against the best interest of children in their custody ?
Criteria for the kindergarten licenses are whether the kindergarten facilities are suitable for the children. Then make it a criteria that the traveling time to and from the kindergarten is also suitable for children that age.
Not to disagree with your overall assessment of the situation, but this isn't about giving priority to "HK people". The issue is a sustained failure of multiple HK governments' education policy to cope with post-1997 realities. This is a symptom of denial.
A local *private* school is no more required to prioritize seats for nearby residents than is a local McDonald's; and why should it be otherwise? Business is business. But HK residents should indeed have access to education that is affordable, high-quality, and close to our homes. That many people apparently do not is a hallmark of official incompetence.
I still don't understand why there's nonsense like "interviews" for kindergarten. What a rotten business that encourages both parents and their children to be totally stressed out.
How about forcing the "privately run" hospitals ?
This government is not a government of the HK people or for the HK people. Why shouldn't HK people have priority to places in HK schools? If he is right, a local school doesn't even have to take any HK students and the Education Bureau cannot do anything about it. This is just a joke.


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