Education Secretary Eddie Ng has confirmed that an application has been received for a school place for Siu Yau-wai, the 12-year-old undocumented mainland boy who received temporary residence permit from the government last week.
The application seeking admission for Siu in a local school was received Tuesday morning, and authorities are now processing it according to standard procedures, Ming Pao Daily quoted Ng as saying.
The Education Bureau (EB) had said earlier that if the Immigration Department does not have any comments on the application, the bureau will arrange a school place for the boy as soon as possible.
EB said it was unable to provide data when questioned about the extent of cases of children holding temporary residence permit being allocated local school places in recent years.
However, Ming Pao reporters have revealed that of the 1,546 applications filed by children with temporary residence permit between 1997 and 2000, some 65 percent, or 1,020 cases, were approved and given a school place.
Executive Councilor Regina Ip, who had served as the Secretary for Security at the time, said in 2001 that temporary residence permits are for people to carry out bail procedures before they were sent back to their home country.
The people had violated their stay conditions and therefore do not have any legal rights to work or study in Hong Kong, Ip had said.
Flexible arrangements can only be made under special conditions and for humanitarian reasons, Ip added in 2001.
Law Yuk-kai, director of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, said there were instances in the past where children of other nationalities were allocated a school place during their stay in Hong Kong due to their refugee status or as a torture claimant.
Law agreed that the Immigration Department should conduct in-depth investigations into the issue. However, he warned that the Convention on the Rights of the Child of the United Nations must be observed at all time, and that children, regardless of their legal status, must not be stripped off the right to education.
Lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said there are mixed views in the community regarding the Siu case.
Government authorities should work out measures with schools on the boys’ case, Ip said, also calling on local people to look at the matter in a calm and sensible manner.
The comments came after some radical groups staged protests in recent days calling for the deportation of the mainland boy who has been living illegally in the city for 9 years.
Granting a resident permit to Siu will set a bad precedent for the government, the groups argue.
– Contact us at [email protected]