By 1953, the Tiu Keng Leng refugee camp was already less isolated. At least there was ferry running between Tiu Keng Leng and Shau Kei Wan (筲箕灣) on the Hong Kong island.
The relative convenience in transportation had opened up employment opportunities for the refugees who ventured out to find jobs to make a living. With newly found income, some of them started to build houses they could call their homes with wood and bricks to replace the tents they had been living in.
In 1953, the Hong Kong government stopped giving out free meals. And the Refugee Office was no longer run by the Hong Kong Government, but was supported by money from Taiwan, and run by the educated in the camp.
Since Kuomingtang was not able to bring all these people back to Taiwan, it decided, under the public pressure, to give them financial support. It imposed an entertainment tax in Taiwan, and transferred the money collected to help the Tiu Keng Leng refugees. The money had supported the set up of a primary and middle school, among other things.
Though the refugee camp population was only 6,000 to 7,000 large, it had 5 middle schools, 9 primary schools and 3 kindergartens at the peak of its education boom. Students from all over Hong Kong travelled to Tiu Keng Leng for schooling, making Tiu Keng Leng literally an education hub. Two reasons were behind the boom. One was that the schools charged very low school fees and provided textbooks for free, and outstanding students could be sponsored for university education in Taiwan. This attracted Hong Kong’s families, especially the poor ones, to send their children to Tiu Keng Leng for education.
Another reason was that the schools were able to provide quality education. This could be attributed to the dedicated and highly qualified teachers they hired, who were recruited from among the refugees living in Tiu Keng Leng, and who were intellectuals of the era, being university or middle school teachers themselves before escaping to Hong Kong. In the beginning, they volunteered to teach in these schools for no compensation in return. They deemed it their duty to teach the kids in the camp.
History Stories: Tiu Keng Leng (part 2)
4 replies on “History Stories: Tiu Keng Leng (part 3)”
My father was a KMT officer. I spent my childhood there, before relocating to the US as a refugee, the last refugees from HK. I still remember singing the national anthem at flag rising. I remember our flag, waves and waves of them on October 10 that your heart would warm with flutter. I went back 10 years ago and found the place replaced by high rises, without any vestige of KMT or the place I knew. I wanted to cry.
Thanks for this insight info. I was in TKL yesterday and was looking for some info today. History is always fascinating, I hope that all the young people I have seen there, take an example : that in whatever bad situation you are, work and believe and you can change your world.
Hugo de Group
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Thanks for sharing! I stumbled on your blog while looking for traveling tips for Hong Kong as I will be studying abroad there in January. I think your posts are very interesting, and offer a unique perspective to HK.