Education in Hong Kong is often described as extremely competitive by global standards. School placements in Hong Kong are very competitive, so be prepared to spend some time researching schools and applying to quite a few to ensure successful placement. Also, most schools request a face-to-face interview as part of their process, even at the primary education level.
As a result it is becoming increasingly popular to consider local as well as international schools for international children’s education. But also, more and more local school are delivering excellent education, like the prestigious Diocesan Girls’ School (DGS) or Diocesan Boys’ School (DBS).
At local schools the kids have the opportunity to learn to read, write and speak Cantonese/Mandarin proficiently. Before you make a decision, be sure to read up on the schools teaching methodology and philosophy to ensure that it aligns to that you would like your child to grow up with. This would be relevant for both international schools and local schools.
Visit our guide to international schools for more.
The Hong Kong education system, which is governed by the Hong Kong Education Bureau, is divided into three types of schools: government schools, subsidized schools and private international schools. In total there are more than 1000 schools in Hong Kong.
Government Schools are fully funded by the Hong Kong government and teaching is done in Cantonese and English. The amount of each language that is used for instruction is up to each individual school to decide. The government schools are open and free for all children. There is also a shorter application process and students can select schools, but generally acceptance is based on residency zones.
The English Schools Foundation (ESF) is subsidized by the Hong Kong government to provide an English-language education, priority given to students who cannot speak Chinese. ESF schools started switching over to the International Baccalaureate (IB) system from previously having used the British curriculum. The schools are divided up in geographical zones and only accept students from respective area. The admissions typically includes both application and interviews. Preference is given to non-Chinese speakers, students of alumni and siblings of students. ESF schools all have the same fee structure, which runs from almost HK$60,000 to almost HK$90,000 per year for primary school and for secondary school, not including deposits which can stretch to around HK$10,000 to HK$20,000.