The Rise and Rise of School Fees

If you want to raise the ire of Hong Kong parents, increase their children’s school fees. Here’s a sample of the latest outrage on the popular Facebook group ‘Hong Kong Schools’:

“These fees for this age are ridiculous!”

“In 2 years time it’ll be 200k just to attend their kindy.”

“Speechless. There is no way a kindergarten or a parent can justify these amounts.”

“I can’t even look! It hurts my eyes! The school fees here are ridiculously astronomical.

It’s just not fair.”

“The education system here is broken.”

“This is depressing. I wonder how far and up it can all go.”

“Day. Light. Robbery.”

Despite near-free access to a solid government education system, most expatriate parents, and a rapidly growing number of local families, continue to opt for the prestige and pedagogy of international schools. Elongated waiting lists at trilingual play-based kindergartens, and the well-publicised construction of shiny new primary and secondary campuses, are testament to an unbridled social swing towards ‘do-what-it- takes’ education planning. The reality is that private schools in Hong Kong will continue to increase fees by the current estimate of 6–10% each year as long as the appetite remains for high-end schooling. Hong Kong is a city run on big finance, served by domestic help and low tax rates. The market will always feed the need to keep up.

If families cannot afford the hefty school fees, debentures and capital levies, alternatives include:

  1. Opting for a less known, more affordable school;

  2. Moving off Hong Kong Island out to Kowloon or the New Territories;

  3. Keeping the little ones at home for another year;

  4. Considering boarding school;

  5. Choosing a local school. The kids learn Cantonese and you’ll save a bomb.

Elsewhere in the world, it is not the responsibility of government to subsidise international school fees with taxpayer dollars. Hong Kong is already grossly unequal