Dubious kindergarten fees revealed2016.12.21
Dozens of kindergartens were allowed to overcharge application fees for admission, one by as much as over 90 times the HK$40 ceiling.
The Ombudsman’s office said in a direct investigation report released last week that the Education Bureau (教育局) was to blame for letting this happen.
The report said the bureau approved 36 of 1,000 kindergartens in Hong Kong charging more than HK$40 for the application fee up to October.
Thirty of the 36 are international kindergartens and charged fees ranging from HK$300 to HK$3,700; seventeen of them were charging HK$1,000, or 25 times the limit, or more. The remaining six are local, charging an application fee of HK$90 or below.
The report said that an international kindergarten charging more than HK$1,000 was allowed to raise the fee, even as it generated a surplus of more than HK$1 million from collecting the application fees.
Ombudsman Connie Lau Yiu-hing (申訴專員劉燕卿) described the application fees as “unbelievable” as she criticised the bureau for failing in its duty as “a gatekeeper for parents”.
She said the bureau doesn’t have specific criteria for vetting and approving such applications.
It doesn’t require kindergartens to specify the breakdown of their actual and estimated expenditure, she said.
Also, it fails to check whether there are unnecessary or dubious items in the calculation of application fees.
Democratic Party legislator Ted Hui Chi-fung (許智峰) said the overcharging practice of the kindergartens was similar to “a vampire”.
The bureau said it will consider the advice seriously and review monitoring measures, including setting up clear internal working guidelines.
(The Standard, 20 December)
Direct investigation report
Policy on kindergarten education