A rise in the cost of textbooks for the next school year has left parents disappointed, despite officials claiming it is proof that measures to keep down costs are working.
The Education Bureau yesterday announced that textbook prices would rise on average less than 3.2 per cent - lower than the average rate of inflation of 4 per cent over the past 12 months.
Officials say this is the third consecutive year the rise has been lower than inflation and that this proves measures taken over the past few years to stabilise textbook prices have proven effective. One such measure was a government push for publishers to unbundle the sale of textbooks and teaching materials, which pushed up prices as schools were often required to purchase materials that would not be used.
"Thanks to the collective effort by stakeholders and the support of school managements and teachers ... textbook prices are stable," wrote Sheridan Lee Sha-lun, principal education officer (curriculum development), in a newsletter posted on the bureau's website.
The bureau will release a full list of prices for approved textbooks in the next few days.
Stephen Kai Ping-chung, chairman of the Federation of Parent Teacher Associations in Kwun Tong district, said 3.2 per cent might not sound much of a rise, but this was an average figure and the price of some books would rise by more than this.
"Currently there are several publishers monopolising the textbook market," Kai said. "They might have decided to raise prices together and the percentage of the rise. If there are more competitors, in the open market, the prices will be better for parents."
He said schools should encourage the use of e-books and second-hand textbooks.
Education-sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen appealed to teachers to be more "price sensitive" and bear in mind affordability for parents when choosing textbooks.