Parents in North District and Tai Po were in no hurry to register their children at kindergartens that had accepted them, as a four-day registration period began yesterday.
Their leisurely approach contrasted markedly with the rush that often prevailed before the government introduced new rules preventing parents from accepting a place at more than one kindergarten.
In previous years, parents exacerbated the shortage of kindergarten places by registering their children at several schools and making last-minute choices. The practice intensified the scramble for places caused by an influx of cross-border pupils.
A teacher at Sheung Shui Wai Chow Kindergarten said 68 out of 120 children it admitted completed the admission procedures on the first day. "Parents are relieved after securing places for their children, so they are not in a hurry to register," she said.
The new admission system was introduced in November in the two districts bordering Shenzhen. Parents had to choose their school in a four-day period last month.
Parents can sign up at only one of the kindergartens that offer to take in their children, before completing the registration procedures.
The teacher said none of the pupils admitted to her preschool violated the rules by signing up for more than one place.
"But we received dozens of calls from parents asking about vacancies each day after we announced the admission results," she said.
The pre-school had interviewed more than 1,000 children for 120 places.
Parents were generally satisfied with the new system.
One parent, who was lining up outside the Sheung Shui kindergarten to register her daughter, said the new rules effectively prevented parents from occupying more than one place.
She said it was different two years ago, when she was forced to place deposits and register her son at several schools.
"Before, the registration period of different kindergartens varied a lot," she said. "So, it was hard for me to register my son at only one school."
But the journey for the parent to secure a kindergarten place for her daughter this year was by no means easy.
Besides queuing overnight for application forms, she had arranged a number of extra-curricular activities and interview preparatory workshops for her daughter to help her outshine other children, she said.
Another parent said the government should have implemented the new system earlier.
"I had already applied for several kindergartens when the government announced the measure," he said.