Move to learn, learn to move: cross-border schooling between Hong Kong and Mainland China

Authors: Maggi Leung*, Utrecht University, Johanna L Waters, University College London
Topics: Migration, Social Geography, Asia
Keywords: Education, school, children, border, Hong Kong, China
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Virginia A, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Moving to learn has become an increasingly common practice among many young people worldwide. In East and Southeast Asia, in particular, children’s education has become a major family project that increasingly involves relocation of the students (and one of more of their family members) across great distances. To date, most research on education mobility has focused on tertiary-level education and the international mobilities of young adults seeking credentials. There are, however, thousands of younger children who also move across the border for education. Well-documented cases are found at the USA-Mexico, Singapore-Malaysia, Uganda-Kenya borders, among many others. As young children move to learn on a daily basis, they and their families also learn to move, devising ways to manage and make sense of the border and (im)mobilities across it.
This paper draws on our on-going project on the border between Hong Kong and Mainland China. It provides insights on cross-border schooling among primary and secondary school pupils living in Shenzhen (China) and going to schools in Hong Kong. While being parts of the same country, Shenzhen and Hong Kong is divided by a boundary that functions in many ways like international borders. Over 28,100 (2015/16) children commute (reportedly up to 5 hours) daily over this boundary for school. In this paper, we focus on how children and their families (esp. mothers) manage and experience the border. It uncovers how the border is perceived and experienced as a site of opportunities and constraints, hopes and anxieties, rewards and sacrifice in these families.

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