The English Schools Foundation, which is Hong Kong’s largest provider of international education and has 22 kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, received the highest payout of more than HKD 71 million. Many other international schools received subsidies ranging from HKD 42,000 to HKD 14 million, which is an average of HKD 25,000 per school employee over the three-month period.
The scheme was open to all non-government organisations. To qualify for the subsidy, which is capped at HKD 9,000 per employee, a company must be largely self-financing, employers must pledge not to make any redundancies during the three months, and subsidies must be spent on paying wages. A second phase of the scheme, running from September to November, will open for applications tomorrow (August 31).
Schools in Hong Kong’s private sector have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. All campuses were closed at the end of January and classes switched to distance learning; they reopened from late May with strict social distancing measures in place. However, campuses were then closed again in late July after a spike in locally transmitted Covid-19 cases; international schools have started the new 2020-21 academic year with distance learning, and there will be a phased reopening of all schools from September 23.
In support of its private education sector, government relief has not discriminated against international schools. In April, the Education Bureau awarded all private and international schools a one-off government relief grant of HKD 80,000, and most recently it has invited schools to apply for funding from the Employment Support Scheme to help avoid redundancies.
While schools have been offered financial aid of varying amounts from the government, what has been done to provide relief for Hong Kong families who may have been hit by pay cuts or job losses in the Covid-19 financial fallout?
The Education Bureau (EDB) offered a one-off grant of HKD 3,500 to help pay for school expenses in the 2019-20 academic year to all students in kindergarten, primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong. For additional relief, parents have turned to their child's school.
While schools in Hong Kong have been closed for the start of the new academic year, they are not offering any discounted fees for the period of distance learning. The majority of schools are still charging full tuition fees, although many have frozen their fees for the 2020-21 academic year.
Some schools have offered fee discounts in recent months and introduced financial assistance schemes for students who need help. For example, ESF announced a 45% reduction for June’s tuition fees; Invictus International School offered unemployed parents affected by Covid-19 a free education for the rest of 2019-20 academic year; and Nord Anglia International School, Hong Kong discounted its 2019 Term 3 fees by 12%. Many schools have waived their application and assessment fees for new students.
|School group||Wage subsidy, June - August 2020||Headcount under payroll|
|English Schools Foundation||71,038,167||2,954|
|Hong Kong International School||14,020,875||528|
|Yew Cheung International School||13,842,384||575|
|Independent Schools Foundation||12,140,553||448|
|Chinese International School Foundation||9,740,736||370|
|French International School||9,134,163||415|
|Canadian International School||7,979,373||295|
|German Swiss International School||5,908,137||231|
|Singapore International School||5,702,001||249|
|Discovery Bay International School||5,686,743||269|
|Harrow International School||5,605,941||218|
|Christian Alliance International School||5,164,086||209|
|International Christian School||5,129,910||215|
|Nord Anglia International School||4,697,634||178|
|Australian International School||4,484,115||174|
|Korean International School||3,520,500||126|
|Kingston International School||2,642,859||104|
|American International School||2,473,161||96|
|Shrewsbury International School||1,900,545||73|
|Japanese International School||1,207,410||49|
|Norwegian International School||1,050,459||45|
|Concordia International School||442,680||18|
|Invictus International School (Hong Kong)||315,000||12|
|Malvern College Hong Kong||270,000||9|