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76% of new talent from outside Hong Kong want their children at city schools, 67 per cent say government ones top choice

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More than 75 per cent of talent recruited from outside Hong Kong want their children to study in the city’s primary and secondary schools, with more opting for government-funded institutions than private alternatives, a survey has found.

The groups behind the poll appealed to education authorities on Thursday to make more accurate estimates of pupil numbers because of the expected influx of children set to arrive in the city with their parents.

“The survey results have shown that non-local parents have a strong need to arrange for their children to study in Hong Kong,” lawmaker Tang Fei, the vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, said.

“The Education Bureau shouldn’t base its policies only on the intakes of Primary One or Secondary One pupils, but also of other grades, because they don’t necessarily start at Primary One or Secondary One.”

Lawmaker Tang Fei, a former secondary school principal, appeals to the government to make sure an influx of children through outside talent recruitment schemes is factored into education planning. Photo: Facebook.

The federation and the Top Talent Services Association in mid-September sent out 1,200 questionnaires in a bid to gauge views on incomers’ requirements for their children’s education after they arrived in Hong Kong.

There were 326 replies and 75.8 per cent said they were eager to arrange primary and secondary education for their children in the city.

More than 67 per cent said they would choose a government-funded school for their children, compared with 21.1 per cent who would pick international or private alternatives.

Just over 18 per cent said they would prefer that their children completed their education in their hometowns.

Only 3.7 per cent told pollsters that their children would be sent abroad for their education.

The survey also found 63.2 per cent of parents would want their children to sit the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exams compared with 13.8 per cent who would opt for the International Baccalaureate programme.

But 18.6 per cent said they had yet to decide on a secondary education programme for their children.

After Hong Kong’s expat exodus, talent search drives mainland Chinese influx

Tang, a former principal at Heung To Secondary School in Tseung Kwan O, said the findings came as a surprise because he thought international education programmes, such as the International Baccalaureate, would receive “overwhelming popularity” among parents.

One successful mainland Chinese applicant, who asked to be identified only by his surname Fang, arrived in Hong Kong in January with his wife and two daughters.

Fang, now in Tsuen Wan, said the family secured a nearby kindergarten place for their youngest daughter and enrolled the older girl into a primary school in Yau Tsim Mong through the government’s discretionary places allocation scheme.

“It is a traditional Chinese thinking that parents want to keep their daughters near them and Hong Kong is convenient,” Fang explained. “I’d prefer them to get their university education in Hong Kong as well.”

Authorities have scrambled to recruit overseas and mainland talent to help tackle a decline in the workforce caused by waves of emigration since 2020 and an ageing population.

The Top Talent Pass Scheme was introduced last December to help boost the attractiveness of the city to high-fliers.

Government statistics showed that 34,626 applicants had landed a two-year visa through the scheme by August and 32,649 dependant visas had been issued.

Why are mainland Chinese professionals dominating Hong Kong’s talent hunt?

The Post reported earlier that more than 95 per cent of the approved top talent applications were for mainlanders.

Posts on mainland social media platforms have highlighted benefits for children under the Top Talent Pass Scheme, including priority interviews at international schools and the potential for entry to top universities worldwide.

The Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools told Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu during his consultation for his second policy address to be delivered on October 25 that the government should consider boarding places at some secondary schools to help the children of new arrivals integrate faster.

Lin Chun-pong, the chairman of the council and a secondary school principal, said it was up to individual schools to decide whether they could provide residential places.

“We are just raising this idea of setting up boarding facilities and letting the government decide how to execute,” he said.

The Education Bureau sent a circular to schools and kindergartens in July to remind them a child could be offered a place if they were satisfied that the applicant had Immigration Department permission to live in Hong Kong.

A spokeswoman for the bureau said on Thursday that the authorities had maintained close communication with school-sponsoring bodies, supported the school sector in advance planning and had taken steps measures to respond to changes in supply and demand.

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