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City Guide: Schooling options for expat children in Hong Kong

by on May 5, 2010

Legal professionals relocating to Asia with their families are faced with the daunting task of finding the right school for their children.  Luckily, Hong Kong offers a wide range of educational options for expat children.

Recently, the Hong Kong Kong government has introduced new financial programs to support its  education reform efforts.  The Private Investment Scheme (PIS) and Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) are geared toward giving local Hong Kong schools funds in order to improve their academic programs and facilities as a way to compete with international schools and English Schools Foundation (ESF) schools.  This may provide you with more schooling options, and DSS and PIS schools are also much cheaper than the international schools.  But, there is a caveat in that the scheme is really only helpful if your children already speak Cantonese, and this is probably not the case for most people arriving in Hong Kong.  Therefore, you’re most likely to end up opting for one of the English-centric international schools.

Unsurprisingly, the Hong Kong system is very much similar to the United Kingdom´s educational system.   Starting at age three, students may enter kindergarten, before entering six years of primary school, the final three years if which include examinations which will determine which secondary school each child may be able to attend.

Secondary school is divided into Junior and Senior levels, as well as into three “Bands”. The Bands are ranked in order of academic competitiveness, with Band 1 being the most prestigious and graduation from which offers the best chance of admittance into the best university.

Secondary schooling ends with two exams, the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Exam (HKCEE) and the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE), which is similar to British A-Levels and is very important in determining university acceptance.

There are a number of excellent universities and junior colleges in Hong Kong, and most include both foreign and local students.  The average cost is about US$10,000 per year, but there are numerous scholarship and financial aid packages available, from both the government and corporate supporters.

For more information, here are some useful links to explore:

http://www.esf.edu.hk/

http://www.edb.gov.hk/index.aspx?nodeID=2&langno=1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_higher_education_institutions_in_Hong_Kong

To keep up with the latest developments of interest to expats interested in working in Hong Kong, please subscribe to the blog and visit us at Law Alliance.  Please also feel free to post questions or comments in our comments section.

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