Some schools will close indefinitely and others will have to merge to stay open, according to reports. Schools in Hong Kong need a minimum of 16 students in the first grade to continue to stay open, and some schools struggle to meet the requirements.
Education department data shows a decline in kindergarten students since 2015, from around 185,000 down to almost 156,000 in 2021/22. Primary schools face the same problem as enrolments also dropped from 373,000 in 2019/20 to 364,000 in 2020/21, and to about 349,000 the following year.
Tak Nga Primary School will stop teaching Primary One classes from 2024-25 and will close completely in 2028, according to the South China Morning Post.
The closing of schools is a worrying yet predictable trend that the Hong Kong Government has tried to fight for years, as the birth rate in Hong Kong has seen a steady decline for many years.
Hong Kong has one of the lowest birth rates in the world and local schools will feel the full effect of it in the coming years. Many schools will fail to meet the mandatory minimum requirement for students per class as a direct consequence of the deteriorating birth rate in Hong Kong.
As shown by the chart, the average livebirth per woman in Hong Kong is only 0.75. This will result in a significant reduction in population if Hong Kong does not see a huge number of immigration the coming years.
The Hong Kong Government has tried to fight the declining birthrate and kickstart the new baby boom in the city. Hong Kong will increase the child allowance rate by HK$10,000 to give families a financial incentive to have a child, but some people do not think the HK$10,000 will make a huge difference.
Lidan Cheng (25) is a social marketing manager working in Hong Kong and she can not see herself having a child any time soon due to her prioritisation of her career at the moment and claims that a HK$10,000 child allowance will not change that.
“I am young and I can really focus on work at the moment and becoming financially secure, before having a kid. It is a big responsibility to become a parent and the HK$10,000 or HK$20,000 I can get from the government is not enough for me to consider a child at this moment. No, I have worked too hard to get this job I have today to throw it away,” Lidan Chen says.
Wenjun Zhao (29) thinks that it is a shame that schools have to shut down due to a decline in birth rate.
“When local schools shut down, it is a massive problem for local communities, because the children will have to travel further and some families will ultimately move closer to schools that stay open. I am lucky that my kids’ school will stay open. Otherwise, we would definitely move closer to the new school,” Wenjun Zhao says.
As a result of the closure of schools, Wenjun fears for an influx of residents from the outer areas of Hong Kong into the city centre so as to minimise travel time to schools, thus resulting in a denser population in city centre and hurting local communities.
Featured Image: Nicklas Calvert