North District parents take to streets to demand classroom guarantee

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 October, 2013, 5:18am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 October, 2013, 5:18am

Parents worried about the competition for school places in North District will rally on Sunday to urge the government to promise that every child of Hong Kong parents can get into kindergarten and primary school.

They plan to protest either outside the government headquarters or in North District, depending on whether supporters of HKTV stay at Tamar until the weekend. The parents are now promoting the rally through social media platforms.

The decision came after the Education Bureau announced six emergency measures to be applied to kindergartens in North District and Tai Po earlier this month, in a move to ease the increasing pressure from cross-border children on local schools.

But Sheung Shui/Fanling Mama Club parents complained the new rules all had loopholes and lacked binding power.

The measures include limiting parents to register at only one kindergarten - instead of several as many do now - with a government-issued letter. Schools should also distribute an unlimited amount of forms online and consider admitting children living in the local district first.

After a meeting with education minister Eddie Ng Hak-kim, club members said Ng did not answer to their request for a list of kindergartens in North District that would practise the new policy. "So far, it's only the government that's been talking," club spokeswoman Zoe Fung Hoi-yan said. "We want a better promise."

She said Ng also did not say what penalty mainland parents would get if they rented addresses in North District or sent their children to board with local families, which would make the policy of prioritising locals useless.

"He just said schools can tell fake addresses from real ones," said Fung. "He seemed to pass the buck to kindergartens."

The club called on mothers from other districts to join the rally. "Now the problem has spread outside North District," said Fung.

Ng said five kindergartens in North District would convert vacant spaces into classrooms to provide 20 additional places for whole-day classes and 60 places for half-day classes. An organisation planned a new kindergarten in Sheung Shui next school year.