'Pump more money into troubled kindergartens' - RTHK
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'Pump more money into troubled kindergartens'

2022-06-20 HKT 18:20
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  • 'Pump more money into troubled kindergartens'
A teachers' union on Monday warned that many kindergartens are in danger of closure unless the incoming government hands them more money.

The Federation of Education Workers said it understood that 20 kindergartens will close at the end of this academic year.

The group also surveyed 235 kindergarten representatives in May and found that around 70 percent of them had experienced a drop in pupil numbers.

It noted that a decrease in enrolment was expected, partly because of the city's falling birth rate.

But Nancy Lam, one of the federation's vice-chairs, said the Covid outbreak and emigration had made things worse.

"No one expected this pandemic to last for a few years, and it has made admissions difficult for the sector. Additionally, many parents chose to leave. Also with the border not yet reopening, some cross-boundary families and pupils cannot and will no longer come to Hong Kong, which means schools, especially those in the North District, have been forced to close," Lam said.

She explained that the drop in student numbers meant schools could no longer ask for more subsidy from the government, adding that more than three quarters of respondents said their schools are in financial trouble.

Over 70 percent said they are planning to lay off around two to three teachers in the next academic year, while a third said they will freeze pay.

Education sector lawmaker, Chu Kwok-keung, who's also the federation's vice-chairman, urged the incoming government to extend a temporary grant for kindergartens, which will no longer be available by the end of this school year.

He also called on the authorities to provide more subsidy and lower the cap on tuition fee increases for kindergartens.