Eight-year-old Simon Pun Shun-sai spends a lot of time on his own at home while his mother is at work. She has a full-time job working six days a week and cannot afford child care. The Primary Four pupil from Sham Shui Po Government Primary School is one of the tens of thousands of latchkey children who are left to their own devices at home after school because their mothers are at work and unable to afford nannies or child-care centres. And help is not always available at school. Some 63 per cent of primary schools do not offer after-school child care, according to a survey conducted by the Society for Community Organisation from December to May. It polled 46 primary schools on their after-school services. But only 20 per cent of the schools surveyed said they do not offer after-school tutorials. Parents, however, say the quotas for free tutorials are always filled and they cannot afford those that attract a fee. The shortage of child-care services means many children are left alone at home after school, Sze Lai-shan, the society's community organiser, said. 'Such latchkey children could be exposed to all kinds of danger. Some might play with lighters or climb onto window sills to watch the streets outside,' she said. Pun's mother, Lau Tak-sheung, who arrived in the city from Chongqing in 2008, works 12 hours a day, six days a week for HK$6,500 per month at a home for the elderly. 'My husband is hardly at home. I can't give up my job to care for him [her son]. My salary pays for nearly all of the living expenses of the family.' Of about 29 schools that do not provide after-class child-care services, 83 per cent cited insufficient funding as the reason. Other reasons included not enough staff, timetable difficulties and a lack of support from related organisations. Nine-year-old Primary Three pupil Ng Ka-tung is another latchkey child. His mother, Zhang Dongmei, a new arrival from the mainland who works as a part-time cleaner at a shopping mall, said she worries about her son's safety. 'He once tipped over a big bucket of water and made a huge mess,' she said. Zhang works every day for 11/2 hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon for HK$3,700 per month. Her husband is a part-time kitchen helper who earns an average of HK$5,000 a month. 'We live in a dilapidated apartment in Sham Shui Po and have been waiting for four years for a public housing flat. The rent and utilities cost HK$2,500 a month. We can't afford to send him to child care.' Sze called on the government to provide schools with more support so that they can offer after-class tutorials and child care. 'These latchkey kids might start wandering the streets - they could fall in with the wrong crowd,' she said.