Education system in Hong Kong: What expat parents should know

Posted by PSR_AXP 16 mths ago

Hong Kong boasts one of the most acclaimed education systems in the world. But do you know how to select the right school for your little ones if they don’t speak Cantonese, or even what the main differences between public and private schooling are? In this article, our friends at Pacific Prime Hong Kong will walk you through the local education system.
Overview of The Education System In Hong Kong
The education system in Hong Kong comprises local and international schools.
The following three groups receive funding from the government to various extents and thus are, to a certain extent, accountable to the Education Bureau:
  • Government schools and aided schools
  • Direct Subsidy Schools (DSS)
  • English Schools Foundation Schools (ESF)

Meanwhile, the below three types of schools are separate from the government and run independently.
  • Private schools
  • International schools
  • Private independent schools


Since local schools are taught in Cantonese, it is no wonder that Hong Kong is home to over 50 international schools with various English-based curriculums.
The Main Differences Between Public and Private Schools
Other than the instruction language, the education cultures between these two types of schools vary greatly. While public schools are notorious for their high pressure, rote-learning, and long hours, private schools adopt a more Western approach with more relaxed curricula.
Another main difference between public and private schools is tuition fees, which we will explain in the following section.
How Should I Register for An International School For My Kids?
Expat parents looking to apply for international schools for their kids should be aware that the process can be highly complex and competitive. It is, therefore, recommended that parents apply to four or five schools to increase their kids’ chance of admission. Parents are also advised to apply as early as possible because many schools have long waiting lists and they accept an application a year or two in advance. Some schools may even accept your applications as soon as your child is born.
While each international school has its own application process, most require an assessment and interview. The child’s nationality, siblings already at the school, and debenture holders will also be considered while prioritizing application.
How Much Does It Cost to Enroll A Child into An International School?
There are a variety of fees associated with enrolling a child into a school in Hong Kong.
Starting costs
Schools usually charge a separate application fee, assessment fee, and deposit, which range from HKD $1,000 up to HKD $3,500. When you accept a placement, deposits will be charged and can run as high as HKD $10,000.
Tuition fees
Public schools are free, whereas private schools begin at around HKD $100,000 for primary school and reach up to HKD $250,000 for secondary school in annual tuition fees, depending on the school.
A debenture is a one-off advance payment of up to HK$500,000 per child to finance the school’s community and projects after a place has been offered to the child. While some schools may refund the debenture when your kid leaves the school, a debenture, others may hold onto 5% or 10% so be sure to ask about your debenture refund.
Get Professional Advice from Top Insurance Broker
Apart from schooling, health insurance is another big thing to consider when you relocate. As a reputable private health insurance company, Pacific Prime can compare health insurance in Hong Kong to help you find the right plan for your needs.

Contact Pacific Prime Hong Kong to have your questions answered, get a free quote or impartial advice today.

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