Anxious Hong Kong parents queue up as applications for discretionary Primary One places open

Phase accounts for half of total places at government and aided schools, with remaining spots to be given out via central allocation process

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 September, 2016, 2:17pm
UPDATED : Monday, 26 September, 2016, 7:43pm

Getting into a good primary school is often viewed as winning a lottery ticket to a good future in Hong Kong.

As such, parents began streaming into top government and aided schools around the city on Monday, the first day for the application for discretionary Primary One places.

This admission stage, which runs till Friday, accounts for about half of such schools’ total places. The remaining places are reserved for the central allocation process, in which children who fail to or choose not to get a discretionary place will be allocated to schools via a centralised system.

At about 8.30am, some 20 parents were queuing up at La Salle Primary School, an elite school in Kowloon Tong, to apply for first-year places, despite the sweltering heat.

Jovin Wong, a mother of two, said that besides its good reputation, she picked the school as it was known for doing well in swimming competitions, which her son has been participating in, and is only a 10-minute walk from home. Her son also takes art and violin lessons.

While her boy has 20 points, from being of the right age (from five years and eight months to seven years), being the first-born child, and having the same religious affiliation as the school's sponsoring body, she was not too confident.

“Twenty-five points would be safer,” Wong said.

Schools admit students according to a point system if the number of applications for discretionary places exceeds their quota.

Mrs Lau, a mainlander, said she was trying her luck at getting her younger child into the top school as it was known for students doing well in both English and Chinese languages.

The mother of two, who is an investment immigrant from Shenzhen and currently living in the area, said she spends more than HK$50,000 on each child's education a month, adding that her younger child is currently learning basketball, international chess and art.

But she lamented that her son did not have high points, so she also had back-up plans such as applying to international schools, including Yew Chung International School, where her elder son is studying.

At the nearby Maryknoll Convent School, parents were also seen streaming in to submit applications.

Mr Nair, who is from India but moved to Hong Kong 18 years ago and is now a permanent resident, said he picked the school for his daughter as it was one of the few top aided schools with English as a medium of instruction.

But he and his wife were a little worried that their daughter could not get in as the only points their daughter has are those for being a first-born child.

They also applied to several other direct subsidy scheme schools. Mr Nair said they opted for local schools as they intended to stay in Hong Kong for good, and wanted their daughter to study at a school where she could learn Cantonese.

At Wai Chow Public School (Sheung Shui), a mother said she hoped her daughter, a cross-border student, could get into the school because students there had “more homework”, which could help “train” her daughter.

“I’m confident that my daughter can handle [studying here] as she likes to write,” she said.