Parents win concessions in Wan Chai schools row

Nora Tong

But moves are labelled as not enough, with children being used as chess pieces

Education chiefs have made some concessions to parents in three Kowloon districts who are angered that their children have been blocked from applying to prestige schools on Hong Kong Island.

But the parents say the concessions do not go far enough and claim their children are being treated as 'chess pieces'.

The row broke out last week when the Education and Manpower Bureau disclosed that children in Yau Ma Tei, Tsim Sha Tsui and Mongkok, who had previously been able to seek places in schools in Wan Chai, would no longer be able to do so.

Sought after English-medium schools such as Queen's College are located in the Wan Chai school net.

The bureau agreed at a meeting with parents yesterday to give them more time to make a choice of school and more flexibility in registering their addresses. But it refused to back down on the decision to exclude them from the Wan Chai net.


Tang Kai-ming, spokesman for an alliance of parent representatives from 19 schools in the three Kowloon areas, said Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower Bernadette Linn Hon-ho had agreed that affected parents could indicate their choices of schools on May 19 instead of May 8.

In addition to the Yau Tsim Mong school net, the parents could also opt for one where they had registered a residential address before March 15.

The bureau would also announce this afternoon whether the families would be allowed to move to other districts if they wished.

But Mr Tang criticised Ms Linn for rejecting 'outright' the request for school places in Wan Chai for students in the three areas.


Ng Po-shan, a member of the alliance and a Yau Tsim Mong district councillor, said officials from the bureau should have consulted parents before making the decision.

'We've been treated as chess pieces,' he said.


Parents found out about the change last week when the bureau published a list of schools where students from various districts could apply for the 2006-07 school year.

There are 4,111 Primary Six students studying in the three areas. The school net to which Primary Six students in Hong Kong belong is determined by the physical location of the primary school they attend.

The bureau said in a statement that the decision to exclude the Kowloon students from the Wan Chai net was a result of fewer places being available in Wan Chai and decreasing demand for secondary places in the three areas.


Ms Linn said in an online statement that the availability of secondary places in Wan Chai for students in Yau Tsim Mong was not 'everlasting' but was determined by supply and demand.