HK$10,000 for kindergarten meals? Costly lessons for parents as 800 schools ramp up fees
Calls for more government venues for kindergartens to ease the soaring rents that drive such hefty hikes as some schools announce price hikes of almost 50 per cent
Parents are facing tuition hikes at about 800 kindergartens across the city in the new school year, with some raising fees by almost half.
Meals will not be cheap either, with the majority of schools charging HK$4,000 to HK$7,000 in the 2016-17 academic year, and some asking for more than HK$10,000.
Parents say kindergartens’ yearly fee rises have exceeded their salary increases and called for more government venues for kindergartens to ease the soaring rents that drive such hefty hikes.
The Education Bureau has approved fee-rise applications from 758 out of 988 kindergartens, with the average level of increase at 6.2 per cent.
At least 253 kindergartens raised fees by 10 to 39 per cent, and at least two by more than 40 per cent.
The kindergarten at Yew Chung International School in Kowloon Tong is the most expensive of the lot, charging HK$177,364 after a 6.5 per cent increase.
Around 700 kindergartens are in the government’s subsidy scheme under which each child gets a voucher – HK$23,230 this year – to cover tuition fees.
Shun Tak Fraternal Association Leung Kit Wah Kindergarten in Kwun Tong raised its tuition fees by 46 per cent to HK$18,590 a year for its half-day sessions.
Principal Nelly Ng said the school had been charging relatively low tuition fees and the increase could improve the quality of teaching. “We hope our organisation can do more for our teachers’ professional development and our children’s education,” Ng said.
Our Lady’s Kindergarten in Wong Tai Sin raised fees by 42.5 per cent for its half-day sessions, to HK$28,500 a year. The school could not be reached for comment.
At least 11 kindergartens are charging more than HK$10,000 annually for meals during whole-day sessions, with Wisdom Kindergarten in Tsuen Wan charging the most – HK$12,672 a year, an average of about HK$55 a day.
A teacher at the kindergarten said the school offers breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks with different menu options every day. That includes birthday party charges for presents and food.
She said the school would display menus and a breakdown of charges prominently on campus for parents to read. A kindergarten secretary said the school also has its own kitchen with two chefs.
A bureau spokesman said officials reviewed kindergartens’ budget and justification at length in processing fee increase applications, considering factors such as salary hikes and improvement of school facilities.
The spokesman added that the bureau would refer to the commodity index in reviewing meal fees and might require further details from kindergartens.