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Education & Schools

Hong Kong (City) - Education & Schools

Click here to go to this city guide's homepage

Education is valued and taken seriously in Hong Kong. Children as early as 3 years of age are expected to start school. By law, all children between the ages of 6 and 16 are required to be schooled. Primary schools begin at age 6, and last for 6 years. Children then progress to a 3-year course (junior secondary education). Most will stay on for an additional 2-year senior secondary course, while others may join full-time vocational training.

Parents often take an active role in planning for their children's education. As with most things in Hong Kong, places at good schools are scarce, and thus very competitive. As an expatriate, if you have school-going children, your choice of school would be a priority when relocating, as you can expect waiting lists for the best schools. Your choice of school could also affect your choice of location for accommodation.

Many international schools cater to the expatriate community who may prefer to follow the national curriculum of their home country. For example, the English School Foundation (a href="http://www.esf.edu.hk/index.aspx">www.esf.edu.hk; Tel: 2574 2351) follows the UK education system, while the US educational system and/or IB program is offered at several other international schools. An excellent summary of the choices of schools available for expatriate children is prepared by the Education and Manpower Bureau. Click here to download the guide. The guide also offers contact details for the individual schools.

The academic year in Hong Kong begins in August or September for all schools, and extends into June or July of the subsequent year. The last day of school varies between different schools. There is usually a lot of "movement" – school-changing activity in September among expatriates, as places become available. This is usually a good time to check on the school's availability, if your children are placed on waitlists. A typical school usually has four main holidays - the Christmas Holidays, the Chinese New Year Holidays, the Easter Holidays and the Summer Holidays.

In some popular international schools, there is a practice of depositing debentures by parents. The debentures can run into several thousand dollars, and are by no means a guarantee for entry. See article. This is not an issue for English School Foundation schools, which are a popular choice among expatriates.

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