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Hong Kong schools

Two-thirds of Hong Kong’s direct subsidy scheme schools raise fees

Critics say charges have become exorbitant and more schools joining the scheme has contributed to widening gap between rich and poor

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 September, 2017, 7:01am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 September, 2017, 8:43am

About two-thirds of Hong Kong’s direct subsidy scheme schools have raised their fees for this year, with the increases at one secondary school as high as 32 per cent.

The schools, which are increasingly popular among parents seeking an alternative curriculum for their children, receive government assistance as well as charge their own fees.

ECF Saint Too Canaan College in Kwun Tong saw the highest increase. The annual fee for Form Five pupils rose to HK$20,700, up from HK$15,700 last year. Fees for Form Four went up to HK$23,200, from HK$20,700 last year. Charges for other grades remained the same.

A spokeswoman for the school said the 32 per cent rise for Form Five was due to the school introducing policies to improve pupils’ learning spanning from Primary One.

“Actually, the parents of these pupils were paying the same fee, of HK$20,700, last year when they were in Form Four,” she said.

“When this group of pupils were in Primary One, we introduced smaller class learning for English, Chinese and maths lessons, with them split according to their abilities.”

The spokeswoman added that the school had introduced additional tutorial groups.

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Besides the Kwun Tong school, five direct subsidy scheme secondary schools raised fees by between 6.1 and 20 per cent, while 32 saw increases of 6 per cent or less, an Education Bureau spokesman said.

Among primary schools, three raised fees by between 6.1 and 20 per cent, while six saw increases of 6 per cent or less.

There are 73 schools under the direct subsidy scheme. With the extra cash flow from fees, they provide additional support services and facilities. They also have greater flexibility in areas such as resources deployment, curriculum design and admissions.

But with many top schools in the city choosing to switch to the scheme, critics argue that fees have become exorbitant and the trend has contributed to widening the gap between the rich and poor.

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Fifty-six private schools and 44 international schools also saw fee rises. One private primary school increased charges by more than 20 per cent. Another 25 raised fees by between 6.1 and 20 per cent, while 21 saw increases of 6 per cent or less.

For private secondary schools, five increased charges by between 6.1 and 20 per cent, while four saw rises of 6 per cent or less.

Eleven international schools raised charges by between 6.1 and 20 per cent, while 33 increased them by 6 per cent or less.