Six years old and twice the pressure as parents send children to two kindergartens

Poll finds 20pc of Tin Shui Wai parents are sending their children to two kindergartens

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 August, 2013, 11:12am

A fifth of parents in Tin Shui Wai send their children to two kindergartens a day, imposing an unbearable physical burden on the children and a financial burden on themselves, a family welfare group found.

The children attend one session in the morning and one in the afternoon with just a 45-minute break, during which they have to travel, have lunch and change uniforms, the group's survey revealed.

"They are physically unable to take it," said Cheuk Man, head of the Tin Shui Wai Family Wellness Centre. "They will be really tired."

The centre, a unit of the Hong Kong Young Women's Christian Association, interviewed about 1,500 parents of children aged six or under in May and June.

"We were quite surprised by the result," Cheuk said, releasing results of the survey yesterday. "We didn't ask them why [they did this] on our questionnaires because we didn't expect it."

Of the parents who sent their children to two kindergartens, more than 60 per cent had household incomes of less than HK$20,000 a month and almost a quarter earned HK$10,000 or less.

Cheuk said the practice would be a financial burden on such families as the government voucher system would cover only one kindergarten and they would have to pay about HK$2,000 a month for the other.

Kindergartens covered by the voucher system can charge a maximum tuition fee of HK$25,000 a year, of which the vouchers cover up to HK$17,000 a year.

About 70 per cent of the parents had only a high school education, the survey showed.

Cheuk said some of them might be trying two kindergartens at first to see which was most suitable, but she would not encourage them to do so

Yung Hau-heung, an early-childhood education specialist with the Professional Teachers' Union, said she had seen such children before, and they always appeared exhausted.

They would quickly lose interest in study and become increasingly unhappy, which would only weaken their competitiveness, Yung said.

She added that affluent families sometimes sent their children to an international kindergarten and a local one.

"It's Chinese tradition that parents want their children to succeed," she said. "But it is indeed a strange phenomenon."