Parents split over St Stephen's plan to turn to Direct Subsidy Scheme

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 May, 2013, 5:13am

Parents of two Mid-Levels government-aided schools are divided over a proposed switch to the Direct Subsidy Scheme.

Some criticised the St Stephen's plan as lacking in transparency, while others supported the initiative. Both groups have written to Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim and permanent secretary Cherry Tse Ling Kit-ching.

St Stephen's Girls' College and St Stephen's Girls' Primary School, which are run by the Anglican Church in Hong Kong, receive full subsidies and do not charge fees. If they become DSS schools, as targeted for 2015, parents may have to pay annual fees of HK$36,000 to HK$42,000.

The school council said on the website: "By joining the Direct Subsidy Scheme the school could better preserve our unique heritage and school ethos while positioning the school for the future." It said an engagement exercise was under way and a decision would be made in July.

Some parents accused St Stephen's of failing to explain how the suggested charges were arrived at. One man whose daughter is in the primary section said: "It should at least conduct a survey in setting the rates."

He claimed a principal had said in 2008 that St Stephen's would not go the DSS way as it was "not for the rich".

"Many applied to the school because of that promise," he said.

In 2011, the Anglican diocese, or Sheng Kung Hui, said it might change the public funding systems of some of its 80 aided schools to get around government reform. DSS schools, which are not covered by the reform, receive an annual lump sum from the government and retain ultimate control over management.