New Territories parent rush to sign up at kindergartens under new rules

Busy day in Sheung Shui and Tai Po as new registration rules kick in after mainland influx

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 December, 2013, 5:54am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 December, 2013, 5:54am

Parents in Sheung Shui and Tai Po made an early morning dash to kindergartens to "pre-register" their children as new admission procedures initiated by the government took effect yesterday.

The new rules, introduced in the two districts after an influx of children born in Hong Kong to mainland parents led to a scramble for places in September, stipulate that each child can be registered at only one of the kindergartens they had been offered a place at. Parents have just four days to sign up at their chosen kindergarten and many did so before work yesterday.

The move is designed to prevent a situation seen in previous years, in which parents would register children with several kindergartens and only make a decision at the last minute. Parents found to have pre-registered at more than one kindergarten in the two districts will not be able to complete the registration.

But some parents signing up yesterday said they had also pre-registered their children at preschools outside the two districts.

Su Kai-tai, who lives in Ma On Shan and has a construction business in Shenzhen, said he registered his daughter at Fung Kai Kindergarten in Sheung Shui as he was considering moving to Shenzhen next year. He had applied to eight kindergartens in total, receiving five offers, and had registered his child at kindergartens in other districts as well.

"I think the government's policy can help those on the waiting list but not necessarily those of us who already have an offer," Su said. He added he may only make up his mind right before the new term begins in September.

Fung Kai distributed 2,000 application forms this year as it, like many kindergartens in the northern New Territories, saw large queues for forms. It interviewed 1,000 children and gave offers to 240, of whom about 70 per cent had local addresses, according to its council chairman Ma Siu-leung. In previous years, half of the children it admitted had addresses on the mainland, Ma said, though he admitted it was possible some mainland parents had rented addresses locally to ease the registration process.

Most parents said yesterday that they had made up their minds despite having multiple offers. But some said the new procedure had left them with too little time to make a decision.