The Chief Executive has brought forward by two years a requirement that all new kindergarten principals complete a qualification certificate. An earlier stipulation that pre-school heads hired after 2004 should have the certificate has been brought forward to 2002. But educationists believe the change will do little to improve the quality of early learning unless there is an injection of funds. Tung Chee-hwa called for all newly recruited kindergarten heads to have attained the Certificate in Education (Kindergarten) from September 2002. But Ho Hon-kuen of Education Convergence, a pressure group made up of principals and school teachers, said all kindergarten principals, not just new ones, should be certified. 'It would be a big loss to the education reforms if there are no quality people to operate kindergartens,' he said. Professional Teachers' Union president Cheung Man-kwong said: 'What the kindergartens really need are subsidies and recognition from the Government. 'No one would bother to upgrade themselves or take up a profession which has no proper recognition and offers a meagre salary.' A string of incidents involving kindergartens over-enrolling and over-charging has demonstrated the need to upgrade quality in the largely privately run sector. More than 70 per cent of about 700 kindergarten heads do not have a certificate. The new requirement will bring kindergartens in line with primary and secondary schools, whose heads need to complete the certificate by the next school year. Although education remains the single largest drain on government coffers, with $55.2 billion allocated in this year's Budget, educationists were disappointed at the lack of new initiatives revealed yesterday. Primary schools are expected to teach up to 37 pupils per class after education chiefs ordered that two more students be added to classes in the 1998/99 school year. The plan to enable 60 per cent of primary schools to operate whole-day by September 2002, and to require all newly employed school teachers to be degree-holders, will not be accelerated. Mr Tung insisted that all developments in information-technology education were on schedule despite a survey showing up to 70 per cent of schools were not using their hi-tech tools.