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Hong Kong schools

Hong Kong parents unhappy with primary school allocation results file last-ditch applications for children

Some 22,486 out of 32,171 children were granted one of their first three choices, a rise from last year, but this still means schools receiving a rush of last-minute applicants

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 June, 2018, 6:37pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 June, 2018, 12:01am

Hong Kong parents on Saturday flocked to popular primary schools in a last-ditch effort to help their children secure places as more than 32,000 pupils across the city found out the institutions they had been allocated.

With the release of the results of the Central Allocation for Primary One Admission, some parents were pleased to have landed the school of their choice for their young ones, but others, unhappy with the outcome, tried their luck by dropping last-minute applications at preferred schools in the “door-knocking” process.

A total of 32,171 children took part in the central allocation this year. Among them, 22,486 were granted one of their first three choices – a success rate of 69.9 per cent – according to the Education Bureau. It was higher than last year’s three-year low of 67.6 per cent.

“We will celebrate on a yacht,” a father whose daughter was allocated to a desired school, Maryknoll Convent School in Kowloon Tong, told the media. He said he spent about HK$10,000 a month on his daughter’s extracurricular activities, such as ballet and piano classes.

A frustrated mother, surnamed Lam, whose son was given a place at a school she did not opt for, said in tears that she had no idea what to do next.

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

Under the 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.

Parents dissatisfied with the allocation results can try their luck at preferred schools in the so-called door-knocking process.

One such school receiving an influx of parents was St Matthew’s Lutheran School in Sau Mau Ping, where dozens of people were seen queuing outside the compound to obtain application forms for last-minute vacancies.

The school was set to hand out 180 forms. After the first round of distribution on Saturday morning, less than 20 forms were left, and the process would resume on Monday.

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

La Salle Primary School, an elite school in Kowloon Tong, also experienced a similar situation.

Parents have to register their children at the allocated schools on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Chu Wai-lam, principal of Fung Kai No 1 Primary School in Sheung Shui, said there was a slight drop in the number of children joining the central allocation this year compared with the previous year.

“More pupils have chosen to study in schools in Shenzhen this year,” Chu said, referring to a policy announced by authorities across the border last year which allows Hong Kong-born children to study in public schools in Shenzhen.

More pupils have chosen to study in schools in Shenzhen this year
Chu Wai-lam, principal, Fung Kai No 1 Primary School

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor attended an education summit on Saturday to show her willingness to listen to opinions from frontline teachers and stakeholders in the sector.

“There should be no differences between the political divide when talking about the goal of education,” she said in her opening speech. Lam reiterated that the aim of policy was to nurture future generations to become citizens who were socially responsible and equipped with “a sense of national identity, a love for Hong Kong and an international perspective”.

The Task Force on Professional Development of Teachers, a government policy advisory body, will kick off a consultation on the timetable for establishing an all-graduate teaching force this month, Lam added.

Separately, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, speaking after the summit, dismissed concerns over the change of phrasings in textbooks for primary schools.

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

His remarks came after at least three publishers changed Chinese phrases about the city’s colonial history from “Hong Kong was occupied by the British” to “Hong Kong was governed by the British” in the latest editions of the books. One had described Taiwan as a province.

Yeung said one had to view the textbooks holistically and there was no calculated attempt to amend words in the syllabus as the government had been using the terms “occupied” and “Republic of China” in the curriculum framework.