Four hours to reach school: mainland Chinese pupils endure agonisingly slow trip to Hong Kong schools

More than 28,000 youngsters cross border into the city on first day of term

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 September, 2016, 7:27pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 September, 2016, 10:56pm

More than 28,000 children who live on the mainland crossed the border to attend school in Hong Kong on the first day of the new term on Thursday, with some facing a journey of over four hours.

Tsuen Wan Trade Association Primary School in Tsing Yi, which started to admit cross-border pupils last year, welcomed about 20 of these students arriving at around 10.15am, almost two hours late.

The youngsters were up at 6am to catch the school bus and reached the Man Kam To border control point at 7am, which principal Chow Kim-ho said was packed.

Family ties that bind: Hong Kong parents upset local school admits cross-border pupils automatically

Chow said it took an hour for everyone to pass through because there were too many pupils there and the clearing was very slow. To make things worse, the bus driver later took a wrong route.

“A teacher and I arrived at Man Kam To at 6am to observe the situation,” Chow said. “Because it was so crowded, we wanted to be there ourselves to make parents less worried.”

Forty pupils entered the city at the Huanggang border control point and arrived at the school at 9.15am, still about one hour late but 45 minutes earlier than the same time last year.

Chow said the school had admitted around 50 Primary One cross-border pupils this year, accounting for 62 per cent of the intake in this grade. He said the school’s experience last year showed that buses would start reaching school on time after taking about two weeks to adjust.

To ease the pressure of the influx of cross-border pupils on North District, the closest to the border, the government in 2013 introduced a separate cross-border school catchment area, where 122 primary schools from eight districts reserved 3,000 places for such pupils. Previously, they competed with local children for places.

Tsing Yi joined the cross-border catchment areas in 2015.

But some cross-border children who live closest to North District might be allocated to remote areas such as Tsing Yi, Tung Chung or Wong Tai Sin.