With the registration process having begun for people seeking Primary One places for their children for the 2017/2018 school year, government and aided schools in the city saw a flood of anxious parents on Monday.
The scenes at several schools made it clear that competition for the coveted places has become more intense compared to previous years, partly due to an influx of pupils from across the border.
As there will be 66,000 eligible local students this year, an inflow of cross-border pupils into the Northern districts has added new urgency to the annual scramble for first-year places in schools.
Citing sources from several primary schools, Headline Daily reported that up to 6 students could be competing for each Primary One place on average.
Parents have until this Friday to submit applications for Primary One places for the next academic year.
The applications must be submitted directly to the schools for discretionary seats, which account for about half of the total Primary One places in government and aided schools in the city.
The rush is especially strong at schools that are considered to be good and a cut above the rest.
One such school, the La Salle Primary School in Kowloon City, saw parents arrive two hours early on Monday to put in the applications.
La Salle predicted that competition would be more intense this year, and that even students with 25 points under the Education Bureau’s points system for admission might need to be put under a ballot system to be allocated a place.
Monday was the first day of acceptance of applications for the discretionary seats at the schools.
Fung Kai No. 1 Primary School headmaster Chu Wai-lam said his school will only offer four classes, with a total of 120 places, for Primary One students for the 2017/2018 school year, 60 fewer places than last year.
It is expected that the ratio of cross-border pupils versus local students could be 50:50 for many primary schools in the Northern District.
A woman surnamed Hung, who happens to live just ten minutes away from her preferred primary school, told Apple Daily that competition now is simply too immense, and that she is not sure of a place for her son even though the kid has a high score under the Education Bureau’s points system.
Another lady, whose family moved to Hong Kong from the mainland via an Investment Immigration program, revealed that she spent a large sum of money to buy a flat in Kowloon City as part of preparations to enroll her child at La Salle Primary School.
However, as her son has only got ten points under the points system, Lau said she was just trying her luck at the school on Monday.
As a back-up plan, Lau has also put in applications at some international primary schools.
In Sheung Shui district, many parents of cross-border pupils were seen lining up outside schools ahead of the enrolment time on Monday.
Meanwhile, Sky Post reported that many parents have started enrolling their children in courses like Cambridge English Learning programs to increase their chances of getting into good schools.
Some education centers are said to have pupils as young as three years in age.
Tong Siu-fan, headmaster of Hong Kong Nobel Preschool, pointed that most elite schools use a high standard of English as a selling point for their academic standard.
She reminded parents to be wise when enrolling children in courses, warning that institutions that focus solely on marks of the pupils may not be good.
- Contact us at [email protected]