Online forms for preschool entry could cut queues

Education Bureau considers use of internet to help parents enrol children without long waits

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 January, 2014, 4:02am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 January, 2014, 4:02am

Education officials are considering the feasibility of all kindergartens making admission application forms for the next academic year available online, a government source said yesterday.

The idea was prompted by the huge queues that formed outside many preschools this year, particularly in districts close to the border, where some parents waited overnight to ensure their children got a place.

Many local parents were worried there would be a shortage of places due to the influx of children born in Hong Kong to mainland parents seeking education.

"We do not wish to see any parents in any districts lining up for days and nights for application forms. We'd like to ease their worries," the source said.

She said discussions with preschools had already started and the government aimed to ask all kindergartens in the city to "provide unlimited copies of application forms online for parents".

The government is also studying the possibility of replacing the four-day centralised registration period in border districts with a registration system using kindergarten vouchers to "streamline administrative procedures between preschools and the Education Bureau".

It hopes to apply the new system in Yuen Long, Tuen Mun, North and Tai Po districts, and all preschools in the districts will have to undergo registration procedures in the same week.

Last year, the government introduced a rule in North and Tai Po districts that ensured pupils could only register at one of the preschools where they had been offered a place.

The source said details of the admission arrangements for preschool K1 places for the 2015-2016 academic year would be announced by mid-year.

Ma Siu-leung, council chairman of Fung Kai Kindergarten in Sheung Shui, welcomed using kindergarten vouchers for registration, but feared the online application form distribution might not be "practicable" for some kindergartens as "their websites may not be able to handle a large amount of visitors at once".

The source said the government was considering commissioning the Rating and Valuation Department to conduct rent valuations on kindergartens to determine if they could be subsidised to provide the extra three years of free education the government wants for children.