Hong Kong’s Education Bureau (EDB) is offering grants totalling HKD 75 million to kindergartens, childcare centres and schools with kindergarten classes. The news follows reports last month that several kindergartens, especially privately-run ones, are facing financial difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
All kindergartens in the government’s Kindergarten Education Scheme are eligible to apply for a HKD 1.5 million relocation grant or a HKD 500,000 renovation grant. The EDB is also providing grants of up to HKD 20,000 for kindergartens offering an immersive Chinese programme, to help boost early years education for non-Chinese speaking students.
An EDB spokesman said:
“To help kindergartens joining the Scheme to enhance their learning environment, the EDB will implement two pilot schemes for the renovation grant and the relocation grant in the 2020/21 and 2021/22 school years to alleviate KGs' financial burden in improving the school environment."
The government’s Kindergarten Education Scheme was launched in 2017 to help deliver quality, affordable kindergarten education. EDB will award grants to help kindergartens relocate or renovate their campuses based on the current situation of the school, finances, the urgency of renovation works, sustainability, and the tenancy period of the kindergarten campus.
It has been a turbulent year for kindergartens. First, classes were suspended for up to one week in November 2019 due to protests across Hong Kong. Then, all campuses were closed from the end of January due to Covid-19 and all classes switched to distance learning; they reopened from late May with strict social distancing measures in place. The latest decision to close campuses until at least early September strikes another blow for kindergartens across Hong Kong.
Many kindergartens are small, often standalone businesses, already competing against schools that can enrol students from as young as six months – and the challenges of delivering distance learning are far greater when it comes to pre-schoolers. The government has previously offered relief measures to support those kindergartens in difficulty, and this latest announcement on grants will surely be welcomed.