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Selected Research Project
Project Title Educational Experiences, Family Relationships and Sense of Belonging: Cross-Border Primary School Children Commuters
Principal Investigator Dr. Chan Kit Wa, Anita
Area of Research Project
Public Policy Studies
Project Period
From 1/2012 To 12/2013
  • Explore the impact of cross-border residence on children’s schooling experiences including travelling, social integration and parent-teacher coordination;
  • Examine the complexity and dynamics of familial relations through exploring caretaking strategies and parent-child relationships;
  • Examine their sense of belonging and how they construct their understanding of HK and the mainland as their co-existing homes; and
  • Make policy recommendations on how to enhance family solidarity as well as address diverse issues faced by cross-border families.
Methods Used

A triangulation method which will involve undertaking

  • More than 400 sets of questionnaire were collected from cross-border school children and their parents/guardians;
  • Organizational interviews with 8 stakeholders; and
  • 32 in-depth interviews with school children and their parents/guardians.
Summary of Findings
  • This study has found that cross-border students and their families regarded their schooling experiences positive and preferred studying in Hong Kong than on the mainland. They also exhibited a stronger identification with Hong Kong than with mainland, despite the length of residence in Shenzhen or mothers’ background. Our findings also showed that children’s positive schooling experience was related to the support provided by schools, the presence of significant numbers of cross-border; students in the same school, and whether HK schooling was received earlier than later.
  • However, longer traveling time, difficulties in learning traditional Chinese and inadequate knowledge of Hong Kong and mainland would mitigate their positive schooling experience and sense of belonging;
  • Our findings also found that cross-border families are diverse in configurations, who are differentiated by marital status, residency status and degree of (im)mobility;
  • We also found that the involvement in children’s education and perception of difficulties in HK schooling varied among cross-border families. Specifically, parents who were more educated, had higher monthly household income, or worked as managers, administrators and professionals involved more in their child’s schooling and identified less difficulties than parents who were less educated, had lower monthly household income, or were not living together. Nevertheless, despite fewer difficulties, families of higher socio-economic status appeared to be less certain about their children’s future settlement in Hong Kong.
  • This research is vitally important as it alerts us to the particular issues and challenges faced by cross-border students when pursing schooling in Hong Kong;
  • Understanding the levels of social integration of children and their sense of identity will enable HK government and schools to develop inclusionary policies and practices as an important means of maintaining and cultivating social cohesion;
  • Recognizing the diverse forms and needs of cross-border families allows HK government to develop the right support to those needy families and find ways to attract families and children of better backgrounds to stay or work in the city; and
  • Academically, our research will contribute to a growing body of knowledge about young people who struggle or flourish through their possession of “hybrid identities”. The issues emerge from this research, such as politics and inequalities of mobility or transnational family strategies, will also have transnational resonance.
Selected Publications Related to the Study

Anita K.W. Chan, Lucille Ngan, Anthony Wong and Chan Wing-sun (under review) The Politics of Cross-border Students in Hong Kong.
Lucille Ngan, Anita K.W. Chan, Anthony Wong and Chan Wing-sun (under review) Border Crossing and Hybridity: Cross-border Students in Hong Kong.
陳潔華、顏樂燊、陳永新(2014),跨境學童的就學經驗和歸屬感,《跨境家庭論壇》,第二期,頁13—25 http://webcontent.hkcss.org.hk/FAMILY_wellness/download/Cross-border_Families_Forum_Issue2_Final.pdf
Chan Kit Wa, Anita, Lucille Ngan and Anthony Wong (2013) HKIEd Study on School Experience of Cross-border Students, http://www.ied.edu.hk/web/news.php?glang=tc, press release on 18th December, 2013.

Biography of Principal Investigator
Dr. Anita Kit-wa Chan attended The University of Hong Kong for her undergraduate and master's degrees, before winning the Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund Fellowship to continue her studies at Essex University, England. Her Masters and PhD studies investigated the gendered identities of young girls and primary school teachers in Hong Kong. She was awarded the Research Leader Award by the Women's Foundation in 2009 and the Excellence in Teaching Award by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences for the year 2009-2010. Her research interests include the investigation of family changes in Hong Kong, the life histories of school leaders, the gender identities of young girls and boys, and cross-border families and students.
Funding Source
Public Policy Research