• Thu
  • Nov 20, 2014
  • Updated: 12:08pm
NewsHong Kong
EDUCATION

Tired and late: bad start for cross-border pupils heading to Hong Kong schools

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 September, 2014, 4:03am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 September, 2014, 11:12am
 

Cross-border pupils ventured beyond the New Territories to primary school for the first time yesterday - with many of the six-year-olds arriving late despite having left their homes about three hours beforehand.

Thirty-one of the 45 cross-border pupils starting at Baptist Rainbow Primary School in Wong Tai Sin turned up more than half an hour late.

And many of them were yawning as they stepped off the school buses at about 9.10am - after setting off from home at about 6am. The school day starts at 8.25am and the final bell rings about 4-1/2 hours later, at 1pm.

Huang Xuan's six-year-old daughter was among those who spent 51/2 hours on the road - an hour longer than she spent at school. She left home at 6.15am to catch the school bus from Shenzhen Bay and did not get home until 3.30pm.

"She looked really tired when she came back," said Huang. "She likes to take a walk or play in the evenings, but today she said she didn't want to do anything as soon as she got home."

Rainbow is the first and only school outside the New Territories assigned for cross-border pupils, after a new policy was introduced last year to relieve the pressure on the New Territories' North District, the closest district to the northern border.

The students were born in Hong Kong and have the right to be educated here, whereas they do not qualify for free education on the mainland.

Under the policy, six other districts within the New Territories also had to set aside places in the central primary school allocation system to help cater for the estimated 4,000 cross-border pupils. It meant many other children yesterday were travelling to areas far from the border, like Tung Chung.

Education minister Eddie Ng Hak-kim said the government would monitor the effectiveness of the policy.

Rainbow principal Chu Tsz-wing said there would be no penalties for the children who arrived late and said the first day began with an assembly, so no important lessons had been missed.

The school is currently developing a smartphone app enabling parents to track their children en route to school.

For some parents, the new term has meant a move to Hong Kong to avoid a long commute for their children.

Li Ping and her six-year-old son are staying with a friend in the Choi Hung Estate, a 10-minute drive from Rainbow school. She said she was looking to rent a flat nearby, while her husband would remain in Guangzhou.

Xie Ruiling, the driver of one of the two cross-border school buses bound for Rainbow school, said it was normal for children to be late on the first day because of extra traffic at the start of the new term. She said traffic flow would get better after about a week as things settled down.

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This article is now closed to comments

ohyeahar
Are we supposed to feel sympathetic? Their parents willingly set them up for all of this.
So I feel bad for the kids but at the same time, their suffering is consented by their parents.
chaz_hen
Boo Hoo. Go to school in Shenzhen if the commute is wearing little darlings down... (annoyingly stupid parents with nothing better to do than breed then ignore)
sipsip1238
Are there no schools in the mainland? If there are, why can't they go to schools there instead of forcing kids to travel 5.5hrs a day on the road?
They are 6 year old now and finish school at 1pm; what happens when they are 15 or 16 and finish school at 5pm or 6pm, do parents expect them to get home at 8 or 9pm?
It's hard to be sympathetic towards the parents, the party that I am most sympathetic for in this is the poor children who don't get a say in this.
These parents force themselves to have kids here, and then live hours away because they can't afford the living expense here should really take a look at how much pressure they are putting the kids in.
ohyeahar
This is just a guess. I suspect that mainlanders don’t want their children going to a local school for the same reason they don’t buy milk powder from their local supermarket. Take that to mean what you want.

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