Textbook prices set torise 3.3pc, officials say
Textbook prices are expected to rise by 3.3 per cent despite officials' efforts to stop the much-criticised bundling of textbooks and teaching materials that has increased the burden of cost for parents.
The Education Bureau made the estimate yesterday after analysing publishers' pricing data.
The news of the likely increase drew ire from one parent, who said textbook prices should fall given parents had been overcharged in the past.
"We have waited for just too long, but things still haven't changed," the parent, Jao Ming, said.
Bureau officials said the 3.3 per cent rise for the academic year starting in September was lower than the year-on-year consumer price index of 4.1 per cent in March.
Tam Koon-che, principal education officer (curriculum development), said in a newsletter posted on the bureau's website that officials would strive to control prices although they were primarily driven by the market.
"[The Education Bureau] has used a multifaceted approach to alleviate the burden on parents," Tam said in the newsletter.
The government's push in recent years for publishers to unbundle the sale of school textbooks and teaching materials followed complaints that the cost of producing such materials was transferred to end users, although the materials might not be used by schools at all.
The government also announced a scheme to subsidise new players to produce electronic textbooks, which Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim said would bring down prices by about 20 per cent.
The first batch of electronic textbooks would be ready for use in 2014, the bureau said. Tam said that, so far, all primary and secondary lower-form textbooks had been unbundled, while the remaining 28.8 per cent of the titles, for senior forms and kindergartens, had not.