Kindergarten fees set to rise up to 20pc

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 March, 2010, 12:00am

Nearly half the city's kindergartens want to raise their fees for the next academic year, with the increases ranging from 2 per cent to 20 per cent.

The principals cite rising rents, salaries and costs as the reason.

The Education Bureau said yesterday 419 kindergartens, 46 per cent of the total, had applied to raise their fees for 2010-2011.

The fees at 86 kindergartens will remain unchanged, and four have applied to reduce their fees.

Results of the applications will be announced by the end of August.

At this time last year, 438 kindergartens had applied to raise their fees.

Sun Island Education Foundation, which runs 11 kindergartens, has applied for a 4 per cent increase. If its application is approved, the monthly fee for half-day study will range from HK$1,200 to HK$1,700, and for full-day study from HK$2,200 to HK$2,700.

Supervisor Tony Chiu Sin-wing said the increase was to cover the rising cost of materials and staff salaries.

Yung Hau-heung, the principal of Baptist Pui Li School, said it had applied for a 4 per cent increase for the half-day school and 6 per cent for the whole-day school.

In spite of the increases, she said, most parents with children aged three to six who qualify for a fee subsidy under the government's voucher scheme would not have to shell out extra money, as the amount of the subsidy had also been raised.

'The amount of the voucher will be increased from the current HK$12,000 to HK$14,000 in the next academic year. The ... hike in the voucher amount more than covers the fee increases at most schools,' she said.

'To take full advantage of the voucher hike, some of the schools will increase fees by around 20 per cent.'

Liu Fung-heung, the vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Kindergarten Association, which has 76 member schools, said its members had applied for an average fee increase of 10 to 15 per cent.

Liu, who is the principal of Choice English School and Kindergarten, said her school had applied for a 2 per cent increase.

'The monthly rent has increased from HK$150,000 to HK$180,000. The rising cost of meals and staff salaries have further pushed up operating costs,' Liu said. She said it had become extremely difficult to operate the business after the introduction of the voucher scheme in 2007.

'We were among the first batch of schools to join the scheme in 2007,' she said. 'Those who joined the scheme must not charge annual fees exceeding HK$24,000. The fee ceiling of HK$24,000 has remained unchanged ever since the introduction of the scheme. But there is inflation every year.

'Our annual fee right now is around HK$23,000. There's not much room for further tuition hikes. We are considering withdrawing from the scheme.'

Helping hand

For the next academic year, the fee subsidy under the government's voucher scheme will increase to: $14,000