Education in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Education bureau governs the education system in Hong Kong S.A.R. The system constitutes three main types of schools namely government schools, subsidized schools and privately run international schools. While children in Hong Kong are required to attain primary and secondary education, kindergarten education is not compulsory. However, nowadays given the intensely competitive environment almost all children in Hong Kong attend playgroups, nurseries and kindergartens before entering formal education (primary) school at the age of six. In fact, many ambitious parents want their offspring to develop social and even multilingual skills before they are of primary-school age.

Government schools

Government schools commonly referred to as ‘local’ schools are fully sponsored by the Hong Kong government. Cantonese and English feature as the medium of instruction at these schools though the schools can decide on the proportion of use for each language. Government schools are free for all children in Hong Kong, and allocation of school places is usually on the basis of location of residence. Some expats who envisage settling in Hong Kong for the long term choose to enroll their children in government-funded schools in order to enable their children to assimilate into Hong Kong life.

Subsidized schools

In Hong Kong, the subsidized schools refer to the twenty-two schools that belong to the English Schools Foundation network. The ESF network of schools was established in 1967 by the Hong Kong government to provide an English-language based education for students who don’t speak Chinese. This network includes kindergartens, primary and secondary schools private and special needs schools. The teaching staff at these schools comprises local and international personnel. Many of the international teachers working at Hong Kong’s ESF schools hail from reputed educational institutions in major English-speaking countries from around the world.

The ESF schools initially followed the British curriculum but since 2001, these schools have adopted the International Baccalaureate system (adapted for Hong Kong and the Asia Pacific Region). The ESF schools are demarcated according to location zones, and a student can only apply for admission at an ESF school zoned for his/her residence. The student population at Hong Kong’s ESF schools is made up of more than fifty nationalities, and the majority of students who study at these schools are permanent residents of the SAR. The admission process of the ESF School includes an application and interviews and is very competitive. Aside from a quality education, students enrolled at these schools also have the chance to avail of various extra-curricular activities and organized educational outings within Hong Kong and overseas. The fee structure is identical at all schools of the ESF network.

Private International Schools

Hong Kong also has a well-developed system of private international schools. The international schools in Hong Kong largely offer an English-based curriculum though some schools also offer a bi-lingual education stream. The curriculum offered by Hong Kong’s private international schools is not uniform i.e. the schools can choose to follow the American, French, British, Canadian or Australian education systems for the choice is usually determined by the school’s sponsors.

Places at Hong Kong’s international schools are highly sought after and the admission process can be nerve-wracking. If a move to Hong Kong is on your agenda and you have school-going children, you should prepare and plan for the extremely competitive admission process of the international schools way in advance of your move. In addition to their high fees and allied costs like capital levies and application and reservations fees, Hong Kong’s international schools also use a system of issuance of corporate and individual monetary debentures as a part of their admissions process.   Aspiring parents need to invest in these debentures (non-interest bearing deposits) if they wish to secure a place for their children at these highly coveted international schools. Education at an international school in Hong Kong is thought to open doors to later life success by the way of further education at top-notch overseas universities. The debentures are refunded when the child graduates or then rolled over for a sibling or a child of another employee (corporate debentures).However, investing in a debenture doesn’t always guarantee a placement.

The above mentioned truth need not discourage you, for a placement in an international school in Hong Kong for your child is possible and many parents do succeed in their endeavors.  You must however, start your research way in advance of your move to Hong Kong. It is also advisable to apply to more than one or two choice schools.  Further, if your child doesn’t at the first attempt get in to the main school of choice bear in mind that it is possible to transfer to a choice international school from another school at a later stage. Some of the leading international schools in Hong Kong include: -

American International School

Early childhood, Primary and Secondary sections Curriculum followed: American.  Address: 125 Waterloo Road, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, Hong KongTel: 2336 3812 / 2336 5276

Australian International School

Primary and Secondary sectionsCurriculum: New South Wales or IB Diploma Address: 3A Norfolk Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong Tel: 2304 6078

Harrow International School

Pre-Primary, Primary and secondary sections available. The school has facilities for day schooling as well as boarding. Curriculum: British (A-Level) and IGCSE. Address: 8,Tsing Ying Road, TuenMun, New Territories. Tel: 2824 9099

Canadian International School

Primary and Secondary sections offered.Curriculum: IB PYP, IB MYP and IB Diploma or Ontario in secondary Address: 36 Nam Long Shan Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong Tel: 2525 7088

Carmel School

Primary and Secondary sections and Jewish day school offered.Curriculum: American, IB MYP and IB Diploma. Address: 10 Borrett Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong Tel: 2964 1600. Second campus- the Elsa High School at Shau Kei Wan Tel: 3655 5388

Chinese International School

Primary andSecondary sectionsCurriculum: IB Bilingual English and Mandarin streams offered. Address: 1 Hau Yuen Path, Braemar Hill, Hong Kong Tel: 2510 7288

Christian Alliance International School

Primary and Secondary Curriculum: Canadian (Alberta) Address: 2, Fu Ning Street, Kowloon City, Hong Kong Tel: 2713 3733

Delia School of Canada  

Primary and Secondary sections Curriculum: Canadian (Ontario) Address: 5-7 Tai Fung Avenue, TaikooShing, Hong Kong Tel: 3658 0508

Discovery Bay International School

Kindergarten, Primary and SecondaryCurriculum: British Address: Discovery Bay, Lantau Tel: 2987 7331

French International School

Primary and Secondary- French (bilingual) and International (English) streams. Curriculum: French section follows French curriculum, International section follows British IGCSE and IB Diploma Address:  Four campuses -165 Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley, Hong Kong (Secondary), 34 Price Road, Jardine’s Lookout, Hong Kong (Primary), 68 Giles Avenue South, Hung Hom, Hong Kong (Primary), 1 Cheung Man Road,  Chai Wan, Hong Kong (Primary) Tel: 2577 6217

German Swiss International School

Primary and Secondary, English and German streams Curriculum: British IGCSEand A-levelsAddress: 3 Harmony Road, 31 Guildford Road, The Peak Tel: 2849 6216

The Harbour School

Primary and Secondary Curriculum: British IGCSE and A-levels Address: 23 Belcher’s Street, 2nd Floor, Kennedy Town Centre Tel: 2816 5222

Hong Kong Academy

Primary and SecondaryCurriculum: IBdiploma Address: 33, Wai Man Road, Sai Kung, New Territories Tel: 2655 1111

Hong Kong International School

Primary and Secondary Curriculum: American, APAddress: 6 & 23 South Bay Close, Repulse Bay (Elementary) 1 Red Hill Road, Tai Tam (Middle And High Schools) Tel: 3149 7000

Hong Lok Yuen International School

Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary Curriculum: IB and British curriculum Address: 20th school, Hong Kok Yuen, New Territories, Town Centre Tel: 2658 6935

International Christian School

Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary Curriculum: American – English and Chinese streams. Two campuses-1 On Muk Lane, ShekMun, Shatin (Elementary & Secondary) and G/F, Kam Ho House (Block H), Kam Fung Court, Ma On Shan, Shatin, N.T.  (Kindergarten)

Japanese International School

Primary (The international section of the Japanese school) Curriculum: IB PYP Address: 4663 Tai Po Road, Tai Po Tel: 2834 3531

Kellett School

Primary and secondary Curriculum: British IGCSE and A-levels. Two campuses -WahLok Path, Wah Fu, Pok Fu Lam (Preparatory) Tel: 3120 0700 and Kowloon Bay (Preparatory and Senior) 7 Lam Hing Street, Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong Tel: 3120 0700

Kiangsu-Chekiang Primary School and College

Primary and Secondary Curriculum: British IGCSE, IB DiplomaAddress: 30 ChingWah Street, North Point (Lower Primary) Braemar Hill Road, North Point (Upper Primary & Secondary) Tel: 2570 4594 (Lower Primary) 2570 1281 (Upper Primary & Secondary)

Kingston International School

Childcare, Kindergarten, Primary-Bilingual Mandarin and English Curriculum: IB PYP  Address: Three campuses 12-14 Cumberland Road, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong Tel: 2337 9049(Kindergarten)113 Waterloo Road, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong Tel: 2337 9031(Lower Primary) 105 Waterloo Road, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong Tel: 2337 9012 Website:

Korean International School

Primary and Secondary, Korean and English streamsCurriculum: British IGCSE, A-levels Address: 55 Lei King Road, Sai Wan Ho Tel: 2569 5500

Li Po Chun United World College

A boarding school for secondary-schoolersCurriculum: IB Diploma Address: 10 LokWoSha Lane, SaiSha Road, Sha Tin, New Territories Tel: 2640 0441

Norwegian International School

Kindergarten and Primary Curriculum: International Primary curriculum (ChristianEducation) English and Mandarin instruction. Address: Two campuses – 175 KwongFuk Road, Tai Po Tel: 2638 0269 (Kindergarten) 170 Kam Shan Road
Tai Po, Hong Kong
Tel: 2658 0341(Primary)

Nord Anglia International School

Newly established school still adding sections Curriculum: English –IGSE and IB Diploma. Address: 11 On Tin Street, Lam Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong Tel: 39581488

Singapore International School

Primary and secondary Curriculum: British IGCSE and  IB Diploma Address:  Two campuses 23 Nam Long Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong (Primary)Tel: 2872 0266 and2 Police School Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong (Secondary) Tel: 2919 6966

Victoria Shanghai Academy

Primary and Secondary, Bilingual English and Mandarin Curriculum: IB DiplomaAddress: 19 Shum Wan Road, Aberdeen Tel: 2760 4324

Yew Chung Hong Kong International School

Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary, Bilingual English and Mandarin Curriculum: British IGCSE then IB Address: 3 To Fuk Road, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong Tel: 2338 7106

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