• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 12:04pm
NewsHong Kong

Total of cross-border pupils to quadruple to 80,000 by 2017, say Shenzhen officials

Shenzhen officials estimate figure could reach 80,000 by 2017, as survey reveals 85 per cent are intending to continue their studies in city

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 February, 2014, 11:35pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 February, 2014, 4:03am

Shenzhen authorities expect the number of cross-border schoolchildren to reach as high as 80,000 by 2017, four times the current number, a social service group said yesterday.

This emerged as new research showed that almost 85 per cent of cross-border pupils intended to continue studying in Hong Kong and 70 per cent wanted to work in the city.

Cheung Yuk-ching, cross-border programme director of the International Social Service Hong Kong branch, said officials of Shenzhen's Foreign Affairs Office told her privately that based on the current growth rate, they estimated the numbers would reach 65,000 to 80,000 in the 2017-18 school year.

"The competition for kindergarten places was so intense last year," Cheung said. "The impact on Hong Kong will be huge."

The figures on children wanting to continue their links with Hong Kong came from a survey of 710 cross-border pupils by the Federation of Youth Groups.

The survey also found that schools in Shenzhen designed for Hong Kong pupils were not really attractive to the young commuters. North District, the area nearest the border, had to turn away 1,400 potential Primary One pupils last year due to a lack of places caused by the influx of cross-border children.

In October last year, hundreds of parents took to the streets in Fanling, North District, demanding the government intervene in the heated competition for kindergarten places and give priority to children living in the district.

Another protest that month in Sheung Shui saw parents urging the government to promise that every child of Hong Kong parents would get into kindergarten and primary school

To ease pressure on the district, the Education Bureau created a separate school net for Hong Kong children living on the mainland. In this year's allocation process, 122 schools in Tuen Mun, Yuen Long, North District, Tai Po, Wong Tai Sin, Ma On Shan and Tung Chung will provide 3,000 Primary One places for these pupils. Almost 80 per cent will be in Tuen Mun and Yuen Long, which means many cross-border children will be allocated to these districts even if they live closer to North District.

In the federation's survey, 68 per cent of the 710 respondents from Primary Four to Form Three said they spent two to five hours commuting every day. But despite the inconvenience, about 47 per cent said they did not want to go to schools in Shenzhen designed for Hong Kong pupils.

Federation deputy executive director Amy Fung Dun-mi said many parents found the fees at those schools too high.

Also, they had doubts about the quality of the education. While the schools used Hong Kong textbooks, they could not hire Hong Kong teachers and were not managed by the Hong Kong government.

Fung said that if the two governments could co-operate to solve the problems, these schools would attract more Hong Kong children living in Shenzhen.

She also suggested the government convert abandoned schools near the border into dormitories or invite hosting families for these children.

The Hong Kong government has not announced any long-term estimate on the number of cross-border children. The Shenzhen government could not be reached for comment.


For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

What's wrong with the "motherland"?
Either the millionaire rats are leaving for Canada or the little princelings are going to the US.
The PRC government should make them all stay home.
China is wonderful and has a good educational system.
Conversely, the mainland may be doing something seriously wrong with early age child education.
Whether you like it or not, these kids have HK residence rights so charging them HKD500 is a bit idiotic.
mainlanders are eating up HK benefit or resources...and they're not even simply paying tax to the HK government....it's unfair to the HK resident...no matter what, the government should always prioritized school allocation to children born to HK resident or taxpayers first...this should always be the policy...
There is a real paucity of long term thinking by the Government, especially the Education Department. In reality, HK's birth rate is too low and these children will be an asset in the future as they indicate they intend to become part of HK's workforce. The Education Department has had over a decade to plan for these children given the CFA's judgment in Chong Fung Yuen's case on ROA. The number is alarming because of the lack of planning and the terrible impact such numbers will have on our local families living in the northern districts. The Education Bureau must make alternative plans such as making the schools in Shenzen more attractive to parents of children with ROA . If not then we all face the prospect of continuing social unrest. What have the principal officials been doing for the past decade to earn their princely monthly salaries? If they were in the private sector they would have been sacked years ago. They have not served HK well - if they can't come up with decent plans then sack them because they are incompetent.
Who are paying for this disaster? Hong Kong tax payers for sure and most regrettably, those children given birth by mainlanders who decided to transplant their bloodline for their own interest from mainland to this civil society?
And they keep clogging the border points more and more! Charge them hk$ 500 per entry AND exit of Hong Kong!
Go to pretty much any developed country in the world, and you will see that the normal practice is the public school you go to is the one closest to your residence.
Hong Kong must be doing something right with early age child education !!
It would feel pretty sshitty to be Hong Konger right now.
Whether the mainland parents of these kids pay tax in HK is a recurring theme in these comments.
Since when has tax been a consideration for HK residency? 60-70% of HKers do not pay any tax. 50% live in public housing.
Instead of picking on these kids, just remember that it was our judges who ruled that they have residency and it was our own government officials sitting on their backsides doing nothing about the problem in the past decade.
i believe HK ought to help these children. Build more schools nearer to China. Give these kids good education, HK needs to work harder and continue to improve the education system to make HK into an unique and excellent education centre. Perhaps time for Government to consider their priorities?
It should be straight forward... those kids who live nearest the schools be given priority... then extra spots be given to those outside. Parents of children who want to reduce travel times get priority... why? Because they are simply reducing the stress levels on their children and themselves. It should not be a case of residents of districts being forced to look elsewhere for their needs. Since when is not the responsibility of government to intervene when it comes to the welfare of children.....discourage 5hrs travel times... in fact discourage 2 hr travel times!!!
It may have this HK vs mainlander tone... but as a parent in that district what matters most in this case the fact that they are mainlanders or the fact that you are forced to extend costs and travel times!
I don't care whether they actually pay tax yes/no, but I do care whether they are actually resident in the SAR or not. Having the right to residency is not the same thing as using it. These children have the ('permanent') right of abode, but they and their parents are not living in the SAR.

The issue of whether these families pay tax is connected to that. If these families would actually be living in Hong Kong, they would be paying tax insofar their income/activities would warrant it. And by the way, just because people don't pay salary tax, that does not make them immune from other forms of taxation, eg stamp duty, government rates, profits tax, duties (on tobacco etc). And even if they won't pay any taxes directly, they would be indirectly shouldering some tax burden by being residents (property stamp duty, rates) and consumers (profits tax) here.

The principle at stake is that a city/territory/nation provides public services to those that live within its borders, and those residents are obliged to pay tax to the government. There is thus an implicit social contract between citizens and their relevant government(s). The idea of offshore residents sending their children across the border to use our public (or semi-public) facilities is therefore highly objectionable, not in the last place since those children in many cases obtained their right to residency through a loophole in the law.
I agree, but also look at the Canadian Hong Kongers. They would be out in force if Canada or HK stripped their benefits.
What's wrong with the Shenzhen or Mainland education system?
I have a friend working in a Secondary school in Ping Che, inside the closed area, 80% of the students are from the mainland and cross the border on a daily basis!
Parents/Teachers days are not too well attended!
Lesser of two really bad choices?
Please think of the innocent children; they need to travel long distance to the schools their parents decide for them. What are the Chinese and the HK authorities going to do, seriously?
these are parents who are stressed not rascist rants.... their concerns are their children's education and travel times. They do not wish to send their kids across the border or further away than they have to. You have stereotyped this argument.
Luckily for the HK teachers, they would not be sacked of redundancy as in the previous years !
What strike me is that the main point to have a proximity school is completely lost :
- Those living in SZ have to make insance long trip
- Those not being able to attend their next school have to go further.
Shouldn't there be an allocation that would allow 80% of those who live nearby and 20% for those who insist on applying for a school far from home?


SCMP.com Account