Luohu helps “cross-border” school children resolve problems

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About 270,000 children studying in Hong Kong and living in Shenzhen, also known as "cross-border" students, have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as they are unable to attend school in Hong Kong due to pandemic prevention and control policies regarding exit and entry.

As such, they have been relegated to at-home online education, even if schools in Hong Kong have reopened.

"Sometimes the teachers in Hong Kong schools forget to turn on the microphone or share the screen. Sometimes the internet breaks down. We can only raise questions to teachers through WeChat. And gluing our eyes to the computers for too long damages our eyesight," a student Zi Wen told the media the impacts of online classes.

Zi said that the children are looking forward to returning to schools.

A woman surnamed Xu and parent to a cross-border student also worried about her child's eyesight and less interactions with classmates and teachers.

The Shenzhen educational departments and Shenzhen Women's Federation, along with their counterparts in Hong Kong have been keen to help resolve these problems and get the students back in school.

The United Front Work Department of Luohu District Committee of the Communist Party of China, Luohu Committee of the Communist Youth League of China, Luohu Education Bureau, Luohu Women's Federation and the International Social Service Hong Kong Branch jointly launched a program caring for the cross-border students.

Wang Chaohui, director of Luohu Women and Children Activity Center, said, "More than 30 Hong Kong children have took part in the chorus we organize for them, and they practice three times a week. The program will benefit more children in the future. We teach them patriotic songs and provide them with opportunities to exchange with other children. The activities will continue to be organized for them on weekends after they are allowed to go to school in Hong Kong in the future."

Ni Yijie, a staff member from Luohu Cross-border Students Service Center, held the cross-border students need more care and attention and that the center is working with social and public welfare organizations to organize various activities to enrich their lives.

"We organize visits to some high-tech enterprises and patriotism promotions bases in Shenzhen to deepen the students' understanding of the history and development of the city," Ni said.

Ni added that aside from their inability to attend classes in the classrooms, the children face numerous other challenges, such as emotional problems, conflicts with their parents, and difficulties to make new friends.

Ni hopes that the activities organized by the center can offer more choices and opportunities for the children and help them fell less isolated.

Gao Hongmei, a researcher on Hong Kong and Macao education with the Luohu institute of education sciences, has been working hard to address problems for cross-border students, and calling on both sides of Shenzhen and Hong Kong to collaborate on resolutions.

She praised some Hong Kong and Shenzhen social organizations for their financial support to make it possible for the children in Shenzhen to attend online classes.

According to Gao, the Luohu district government encourages 90 pairs of sister schools in the Greater Bay Area to bolster online and offline interactions between children, and strengthen their patriotism.

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