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Difficulties encountered by students from South Asia children in admission to schools


Date of Meeting: 28 November 2001

Asked by : Dr. Hon David CHU

Replied by : SEM

Question :

It has been reported that a survey reveals that students from South Asian countries ("South Asian children") have generally encountered difficulties in admission to schools. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the current number of South Asian children in Hong Kong belonging to the age group for receiving basic education;

  2. of the current respective numbers of secondary and primary schools which have admitted South Asian children, as well as the respective total numbers of South Asian children they have admitted; and

  3. whether special measures have been formulated to assist South Asian children in overcoming difficulties in their admission to schools?


Madam President,

We understand that by "South Asian children", the Dr Hon David CHU is referring to children who are of Indian/ Pakistani/ Nepalese nationality and are residing in Hong Kong. The replies below are prepared on this basis.
a. According to the statistics of the Immigration Department, as at 26 November 2001, there are about 5 000 South Asian children who are residing in Hong Kong and belonging to the age group for receiving basic education (i.e. - children aged between six to 15).

Under existing policy, all eligible local children (see Annex for eligibility criteria), including local South Asian children, may attend public sector schools in Hong Kong. In addition, they may choose to attend private/ international schools. Since a student's ethnic origin/ nationality does not affect his/ her eligibility to study, the Education Department (ED) does not keep statistics on the numbers of secondary and primary schools which have admitted South Asian children, as well as the total number of South Asian children these schools have admitted.


Government policy is to provide nine years of free and universal education, and a subsidised senior secondary education to local children (including South Asian children). To enable local South Asian children to integrate into the local community as soon as possible, the Government encourages them to attend public sector schools. These children may request placement assistance from the ED whenever necessary. The ED's performance pledge is to find a school place for these children within 21 working days. In addition, the ED from time to time conducts briefing and experience sharing sessions with relevant non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to see how our education and support services could be better publicised among these children and their parents. To help parents of South Asian children better understand our education and support services, the relevant information pamphlets are translated into Hindi, Pakistani and Nepalese etc.

We are conscious that some South Asian children may not be able to adapt to the local education system initially. Therefore, starting from the 2000/01 financial year, the ED has been providing support services to children whose native language is not Chinese (non-Chinese speaking children). The support services are similar to those received by newly arrived children from the Mainland. Block grants ($2,720 and $4,035 per student for primary and secondary levels respectively) are provided to schools which admit non-Chinese speaking children. Schools may use the grants to provide school-based support services, such as organizing tutorial classes on Chinese/ English, developing special teaching materials, etc for their non-Chinese speaking students. In addition, subventions are provided to NGOs for running induction programmes to help non-Chinese speaking children adapt to the local school environment.

In order to further strengthen the support services for non-Chinese speaking children, the ED is considering to run a half-year full-time "initiation programme" for non-Chinese speaking children starting from early next year. The initiation programme aims at enhancing the Chinese and English standard of these children, as well as providing them with learning experience in the local classroom context.

Admission criteria of children to public sector schools
in Hong Kong

Children holding one of the following documents can be admitted to public sector schools:

  1. Hong Kong Birth Certificate

    1. For birth registration effected before 1 January 1983, the birth certificate alone is sufficient proof of the holder's eligibility for admission to such schools;

    2. For birth registration effected between 1 January 1983 and 30 June 1987, column 12 of their birth certificates must indicate their Hong Kong belonger status as "Established";

    3. For birth registration effected on or after 1 July 1987, column 12 or 11 of their birth certificates must indicate their Hong Kong permanent resident status as "Established";

    4. Children whose Hong Kong belonger status or Hong Kong permanent resident status is known as "Not established" in the birth certificate should have a Permit to Remain in Hong Kong - ID 235B or valid travel documents, with one of the endorsements listed in (c) below.

  2. Hong Kong Identity Card

    A Hong Kong Identify Card issued on or after 1 July 1987 which does not bear the symbol 'C' (for conditional stay) at line 6. If the symbol 'C' is shown, the holder must have a valid travel document with one of the endorsements listed in (c) below;

  3. Travel Document

    A valid travel document with any of the following endorsements:

    1. "Permitted to remain until (date)" (the date showing the stay in Hong Kong to be still valid at the time of admission to school);

    2. "Permission to remain extended until (date)" (the date showing the stay in Hong Kong to be still valid at the time of admission to school);

    3. "The holder of this travel document has the right to land in Hong Kong. (Section 2AAA, Immigration Ordinance Cap. 115, Laws of Hong Kong)";

    4. "The holder arrived Hong Kong on (date) and was permitted to land.";

    5. Permitted to stay with no condition attached;

    6. "Previous conditions of stay are hereby cancelled"; or

    7. "Holder's eligibility for Hong Kong permanent identity card verified".

Last revision date: 28 November 2001
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