Cross-border students up 118% in five years

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Education Secretary Eddie Ng provides the latest statistics on the number of cross-border students and the measures the government is taking to address the surge.

According to figures provided by Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim (吳克儉) during a 22 June Legco question and answer session, the number of students who cross the border from Shenzhen to attend classes on the Hong Kong side has grown from 12,865 in 2011-2012 to 28,106 in 2015-2016 – a rise of 118%. Most of the students are of kindergarten or primary school age, 10,407 and 14,507 in 2015-2016 respectively. The statistics confirm earlier reports that around 20,000 students were crossing the border per day.

Moreover, Ng expects the precipitous climb in primary school cross-border students to continue through the 2018-2019 school years. This will be reversed thereafter thanks to the government’s 2013 “zero delivery quota” for expectant mainland mothers, he said.

In light of these statistics, only temporary official measures are planned to accommodate the students. These include revised arrangements for allocation under the Primary One Admission system, a short-term increase in school places, the opening of makeshift classrooms and the recycling of vacant schools.

Ng also commented on immigration clearance difficulties for the Shenzhen-based students, specifically those that separate students from parallel traders on immigration processing lines. Adopted measures include the opening of  special e-channel services in Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau, simplified clearance procedures at other control points, and on-board clearance in school coaches.

The number of coaches, too, continues to rise. Ng said the number of special quotas for cross-boundary school coaches has risen from 170 in the 2014-2015 to 220 in the 2015-2016 school year, an increase of about 30%.

The number of Hong Kong-curriculum schools in Shenzhen is also increasing. Two new schools opened in the special economic zone this year. The purpose of these schools is to give students the opportunity to avoid the tiring cross-border journey. Ng did not mention the degree to which this might impact other statistics or the temporary measures that the government has in place.