More than 90 per cent of pre-primary parents support full government subsidisation of kindergarten education, but no consensus has been reached on how this could be achieved, a survey found.
The survey – conducted by the Hong Kong Institute of Education – polled 29 kindergarten principals, 332 early education teachers and 2,343 parents from 30 non-profit-making and private independent kindergartens between February and March.
It found that more than 90 per cent of the respondents from all categories agreed that children should receive free pre-school education while about 80 per cent of the principals, 90 per cent of the teachers and 87 per cent of parents expected that the quality of early education would improve if it were subsidised by the administration.
Associate director of the institute’s Centre for Childhood Research and Innovation Chan Wai-ling said parents hoped to see formal regulations and subsidies for kindergartens to improve the quality of teaching.
“Some kindergartens – under the current education voucher subsidy scheme – compete with each other by satisfying parental desires and giving the children a heavy workload, which may undermine their development,” Chan said.
“When education is commercialised in this way, the government should stop the market-orientated trends by providing more options such as setting up public kindergartens,” centre director Doris Cheng Pui-wah added.
The survey also found that about 80 per cent of the educators supported the idea that the subsidy should go directly to the kindergartens, while parents had divided views with about 52 per cent supporting this plan and about 59 per cent saying subsidies should go to the parents.
The centre said the government’s committee on free kindergarten education should start the discussion on 15 years of free education as soon as possible as the demands of parents and educators were clear.
An Education Bureau spokesman said the committee would listen to stakeholders’ opinions on the existing kindergarten education policy, examine the various aspects of free kindergarten education and make practicable recommendations to the department.
The committee is expected to complete its work in two years.