More than 360 not-for-profit kindergartens in the city are collecting exorbitant miscellaneous charges such as for books and snacks despite the subsidies they receive from the government, the Hong Kong Economic Times reported on Tuesday, citing a study conducted by a concern group.
The Alliance for Children Development Rights said its findings were based on a survey conducted over the last three months among 362 local kindergartens offering K1 classes in the 2014/15 school year, representing around half of Hong Kong’s pre-school institutions.
The survey revealed that the average miscellaneous charges these kindergartens collect stood at HK$4,234 a year, while the fees for extra-curricular activities could go up to HK$4,560.
The pre-schools were also charging an average of HK$6,600 for snacks and HK$5,000 for books, the report said.
Under the government’s education vouchers scheme, over 80 percent of not-for-profit kindergartens still levy tuition on enrolees, with 30 percent of the full-day kindergartens charging over HK$20,000 a year and the most expensive one collecting close to HK$40,000 a year.
Forty percent of the half-day kindergartens are levying between HK$5,000 and HK$10,000 in tuition.
A parent, identified as Mrs. Liu, complained that the K2 class where her daughter is enrolled collects so many charges and she is having constant headaches trying to cope as the family relies solely on her husband’s income.
She said she has to pay HK$3,600 a year for child’s snacks, books and stationery fees, which is equivalent to one-third of the family’s monthly income.
Ho Yu-ying, director the Alliance for Children Development Rights, said the government should set ceilings for miscellaneous charges collected by kindergartens.
The government should also review the existing education vouchers scheme and lower the requirements for the granting of full subsidies, Ho added.
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