Kindergarten panic spills over into Yuen Long

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 January, 2014, 2:57am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 January, 2014, 2:57am

The panic over kindergarten places has spread to Yuen Long, with hundreds of parents lining up overnight at preschools for application forms.

They feared the shortage of places in North and Tai Po Districts caused by an influx of cross-border children would spill over into Yuen Long, in the northwest.

At Yuen Long Lutheran Life Kindergarten, parents began queuing on Wednesday for the 800 application forms that were handed out yesterday morning.

The forms were all gone within 40 minutes but the kindergarten will admit only 180 children.

First in line was a pregnant woman applying for her two-year-old son. She said the government should extend the emergency relief measures introduced in October in Tai Po and North District.

"People feel that Yuen Long has no problem," she said. "But I've experienced all this. I need to go out fighting for places for my son. I think the government hasn't considered us at all."

The six measures introduced in October to help kindergartens deal with the inflow of children born in Hong Kong to mainland parents include having preschools distribute unlimited application forms online; giving priority to children living in the same district; limiting parents to registering at just one kindergarten; and adding school places.

Another mother from Tin Shui Wai, Yuen Long, said: "There are long lines everywhere. We parents are constantly running around for places."

Principal Tan Yen-nan said the kindergarten distributed application forms online last year, but it led to more administrative work for teachers due to the high number of forms downloaded.

"We have no control when distributing forms online," said Tan.

Lam King-mei, chairman of the Yuen Long kindergarten principals' association, said the area's preschools had already decided to require parents to use their kindergarten vouchers to register. These can only be used once per child, preventing multiple applications as in previous years.