Enhancement of Pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme

     The Pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme (PEVS) will continue beyond the 2011/12 school year, with enhancement measures including targeted support for needy families, the Education Bureau (EDB) announced today (June 2).

     Following the review of the PEVS by the Education Commission, the Chief Executive-in-Council endorsed a package of enhancement measures for the PEVS and to strengthen financial support for parents, having regard to the incentive it has induced towards professional upgrading and self-improvement.

     "On the way forward, the Government would further facilitate within the PEVS framework the professional and governance improvement of the kindergarten sector.  To enhance financial assistance to needy families, fee remission under the Kindergarten and Child Care Centre Fee Remission Scheme (KCFRS) will be improved," a spokesman for the EDB said.

     Starting from the 2011/12 school year, the percentage of fee remission under KCFRS will be calculated after deducting the voucher subsidy, the social needs assessment for kindergarten fee remission for whole-day rate will be removed to enhance parents' choice of kindergarten education, and the ceiling of the meal allowance for needy children attending whole-day PEVS kindergartens will be adjusted annually with reference to the Consumer Price Index (A).

     To further enhance the existing PEVS, the following modifications will be introduced with effect from the 2012/13 school year:

(i) the value of the voucher will be adjusted annually with reference to the Composite Consumer Price Index (CCPI);

(ii) the existing eligibility criteria for admission of kindergartens to the PEVS will continue but the fee thresholds will be adjusted annually with reference to the CCPI and frozen in situation of deflation; and

(iii) PEVS kindergartens meeting the minimum 1:15 teacher to child ratio with teachers possessing the Certificate in Early Childhood Education (C(ECE)) qualification may continue to employ non-C(ECE) teachers with Qualified Kindergarten Teacher qualifications.

     The disbursing of voucher subsidy to PEVS kindergartens will be streamlined to follow their tuition fee payment schedules. The existing reimbursement scheme on rents, rates and government rents will continue rather than be subsumed into the voucher.

     For the sound development of the kindergarten sector and continuous improvement, the Quality Review will continue for PEVS kindergartens beyond the 2011/12 school year, parent education will be enhanced and greater focus will be given to under-performing kindergartens.  The PEVS will be subject to periodic reviews in an evidence-based manner.

     "The Government increases investment in pre-primary education through the PEVS.  Kindergartens are exercising the flexibility to provide remuneration packages to attract and retain staff having regard to their professional training and teaching effectiveness," the spokesman said.

     Since the introduction of the PEVS, an average of some 85% of kindergarten children have benefited from the voucher subsidy annually, compared to some 50% of kindergarten children benefiting from the financial assistance under the former Kindergarten and Child Care Centre Subsidy Scheme.  The percentage of kindergarten teachers holding or pursuing C(ECE) qualification has increased from 56% in the 2006/07 school year to some 96.5% as of the 2010/11 school year.

     "Kindergartens joining the PEVS are practising self-evaluation for continuous improvement. As of the 2010/11 school year, about 80% of kindergartens have joined the scheme," the spokesman said.

     "The PEVS has significantly enhanced the capacity of the kindergarten sector in providing quality pre-primary education. It also renders pre-primary education more affordable to a wide spectrum of the community," he added.

     The voucher subsidy in the 2010/11 school year is $14,000 per student per annum, and will be increased to $16,000 per student per annum in the 2011/12 school year.  Needy families may apply for additional financial support through the KCFRS on top of voucher subsidy.  The fee remission ceiling including the voucher subsidy is $18,700 per student per annum for half-day kindergartens, and $30,200 per student per annum for whole-day kindergartens as of the 2010/11 school year.

Ends/Thursday, June 2, 2011
Issued at HKT 15:03