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LCQ15: Collection of Tong Fai by schools to support educational expenses
     Following is a question by Hon Ip Kin-yuen and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Kevin Yeung, in the Legislative Council today (Jul 12):


     Since 2008-2009, the Government has implemented 12 years' free education in public sector primary and secondary schools. According to the Guidelines on Collection of Tong Fai issued by the Education Bureau (EDB), the Bureau has no objection for aided secondary, special and caput schools to collect Tong Fai from their senior secondary students to support educational expenses. Where the Tong Fai to be collected from students does not exceed $320 per person per annum, the schools concerned are only needed to notify the EDB in writing; otherwise, they are required to obtain permission from the EDB. Besides, the Code of Aid for Aided Schools stipulates that aided schools must obtain the permission of the Permanent Secretary for Education to collect Tong Fai from students of primary classes and secondary one to three classes. Some parents have pointed out that some schools collect from their students Tong Fai at a rate as high as several thousand dollars per person per annum, making the 12 years' free education unworthy of its name. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council, in the past five school years:

(1) of the total number of applications received by the EDB for collection of Tong Fai, with a breakdown by finance type of school and amount of Tong Fai; the respective numbers of such applications that were approved and rejected, and a breakdown of the number of approved cases by amount of Tong Fai;

(2) whether the EDB required schools which applied for permission to collect Tong Fai from students at a rate exceeding $320 per person per annum to provide specific justifications for their applications, as well as the proposed uses of and utilisation plans for Tong Fai; whether the EDB required schools which had been permitted to collect such Tong Fai to submit statements of income and expenditure related to Tong Fai after the end of the school year concerned; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) whether the EDB took the initiative to understand the reasons (e.g. repair works for school premises, provision of additional facilities, income falling short of expenditure, etc.) why various schools collected Tong Fai, and assisted those schools in obtaining the funds needed through other means, so as to alleviate the economic pressure on students and parents?



     The Education Bureau (EDB) has no objection for aided secondary, special and caput schools to collect Tong Fai from the senior secondary students to meet the school-based needs and support special educational expenses. As for the levels from Primary 1 to Secondary 3, no Tong Fai can be charged from the students of the levels concerned except with the permission of the EDB. Therefore, if schools wish to collect Tong Fai from the senior secondary students exceeding the approved ceiling (i.e. $300 for the 2012/13 school year, $310 for the 2013/14 and 2014/15 school years, and $320 as from the 2015/16 school year per student per annum) or collect Tong Fai from Primary 1 to Secondary 3 students, they should submit applications to the EDB for approval. The EDB has issued circular and guidelines to remind schools of the procedures and points to note in respect of the collection of Tong Fai.

     Our reply to the questions raised by Hon Ip Kin-yuen is as follows:

(1) The EDB received a total of 18 applications for the collection of Tong Fai from 11 aided secondary schools in the past five years (i.e. from the 2012/13 to 2016/17 school years). Relevant information is as follows:
Amount of Tong Fai
(per student per annum)
No. of Approved Applications No. of Rejected Applications
Above $1,000 4 1
$500 to $1,000 2 1
Below $500 9 1

(2) When submitting applications relating to the collection of Tong Fai, schools are required to provide the EDB with detailed information including the amount of proposed Tong Fai, the purpose for collection of Tong Fai with detailed breakdown, the utilisation plans, the actual enrolment of the current school year and estimated enrolment of the next school year, the balance of Tong Fai Account, if any, etc. Schools are also required to confirm that they have made known to parents the planned use of the proposed Tong Fai and obtained consent from the parents, and that such collection has been endorsed by the School Management Committee/Incorporated Management Committee. Furthermore, schools are required to declare in the applications that needy parents can be exempted from paying Tong Fai. All along, public sector schools are required to submit audited accounts to the EDB, including the income and related expenditure of Tong Fai, which show their annual income and expenditure. Schools should also give a financial summary, including the annual income and expenditure of Tong Fai, in their annual school reports uploaded onto their school websites.

(3) With the consent from the parents and approval from the EDB, individual schools are allowed to make use of Tong Fai to provide above-standard facilities and additional support for students. As stated in paragraph (2), the EDB will request schools to provide justifications for collection of Tong Fai to prove that they have genuine needs and use it for specific purposes. If the schools have financial difficulties, the EDB will provide them with advice and appropriate support. The EDB will consider and process each application on its own merits with due regard to its justifications. The EDB will ensure that Tong Fai is collected by schools in a reasonable and transparent manner, that parents' concerns are suitably followed up and addressed, and that the needy parents and students would not be adversely affected. 
Ends/Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Issued at HKT 11:42
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