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Hong Kong schools

Tears of joy for some but disappointment for many as Hong Kong primary school allocation results released

Lowest success rate in last three years meant only 67.6 per cent of 32,235 children received a place in the school of their top three choices with competition fiercest in north district for cross-border students

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 June, 2017, 4:55pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 June, 2017, 10:22pm

The fight for places in Hong Kong’s most coveted primary schools was once again fiercely competitive this year, with parents taking their children to more interviews in a bid to secure the spot of their choice.

While parents who did manage to land their children in their dream schools shed tears of joy, for many the results announced on Saturday were a cause of disappointment – the 67.6 per cent success rate is the lowest in three years. Out of 32,235 children who took part in the central allocation this year, 21,785 were allocated to one of their first three choices, according to the Education Bureau.

‘Rethink needed’ on Hong Kong Primary One places allocation system as success rate hits new low

At Yaumati Catholic Primary School (Hoi Wang Road), parents lined up as early as 8am to collect the allocation results.

Cherry Ho Suk-ching, who came with her husband and son, was one of the elated mothers. She found out that her boy will be attending Tak Sun School – the family’s first choice.

Ho said they opted for a boys’ school in the hopes of the education there being tailored to fit the development stages of boys.

“We are going to have a big meal to celebrate,” Ho said. “Now there are no more interviews for my son. We can have a family trip to Japan.”

In Hong Kong’s Primary One Admission System, parents can apply to a public or government-aided school in the discretionary stage, and be offered a place based on a points system.

If the children are not admitted, they will go through central allocation for schools mostly within their school net, based on where they live.

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

Parents dissatisfied with the allocation results can try their luck by dropping last-minute applications at preferred schools in the so-called “door-knocking” process.

The fight for school places is especially fierce in the northern district, the ideal place for cross-border pupils – children who live on mainland China but come into the city daily for school.

A significant number of Primary One students this year came from 95,451 newborns in 2011, the highest since 1981. Almost half of these babies were born to mainland Chinese women, government figures showed.

Chu Wai-lam, principal of Fung Kai No 1 Primary School in Sheung Shui, said the school had to cut the number of Primary One classes from six to five due to a shortage of classrooms.

“We expect that this year will be more competitive than before,” Chu said.

Chu added he expected more than 300 students to fight for 15 spots reserved for children who will undergo the door-knocking process this year.

Over at Yaumati Catholic Primary School, hundreds of applications had already been received despite only 16 extra places on offer, a spokesman said.

Hong Kong schools hit out at drop in number of primary classes despite rising demand

At La Salle Primary School, a highly sought-after primary school in Kowloon Tong, dozens of parents visited on Saturday morning to put their children’s portfolios into a paper box at the entrance.

Housewife Pauline, who declined to give her full name, said La Salle was the third school her husband and herself had door knocked on Saturday after their son was assigned a school in their bottom five choices.

The couple planned to visit seven more.

“This is so painful,” she said. “Now I still don’t know which school my son will end up in.”

Popular schools will hold their final-round interviews in the coming weeks, putting an end to the school hunting many parents said started a year ago.

Five-year-old Cherlyn still went for a 10.30am interview on Saturday for the Sharon Lutheran School even though she was already assigned the family’s second choice in the central allocation.

Her mother Wong So-sum said she was pushing for Sharon Lutheran because of the school’s philosophy to allow students to grow up happily.

“The most important thing is her happiness,” Wong said. “We shouldn’t give her more pressure.”