Independent school fees : New aid scheme hailed
 
The Straits Times | Sep 6, 1990



THE revised financial assistance scheme announced by the Education Ministry yesterday was received by families like the Phuas as "good news and a great relief".

The Phuas said they can now stop worrying about the monthly school fees of $100 for their son, Tshi Howe, 13, who enrolled in Chinese High School, an independent school, early this year.

Mr Phua Kok Soon, 40, who is the sole breadwinner in the family, earns $1,500 as a technician. He had felt the pinch when his son's school fees rose from $25 a month to $100 in January.

Now with the revised scheme, he can apply for a 50 per cent fee relief. He will then need to pay only $50 a month.

Like the Phuas, other parents and MPs also hailed the move by the ministry which makes it possible for one in three students to apply for aid, as compared to one in 10 before this. Previously, only students with family incomes of up to $1,200 qualified for aid. Now, a student qualifies even if his family income is as much as $2,000.

Mrs Phua, a housewife, said: "This is really good news. Tshi Howe used to worry that we couldn't afford it but we told him we wanted the best for him."

Another happy parent was Mr Tan Too Mong, 41, a factory supervisor, whose son, Jiarong, a Secondary 2 student in Chinese High, can now apply for financial aid. When told of the revised scheme, his first reaction was: "How do I apply?"

Mr Tan, who earns $1,500 a month, has another son in Primary 6. He said: "If we can pay subsidised fees, our younger son can even go to an independent school. But under the old scheme, having two sons paying $100 each would have been a bit too much for me."

The hike in fees for independent schools was a hot topic among MPs when it was announced last year.
One of the most vocal was Mr Peh Chin Hua, an MP for Jalan Besar GRC. Yesterday, a pleased Mr Peh said: "The high fees worried many parents. I think that even though parents know that the independent schools are good,
with the high fees, some will not send their children there. "But I hope that the schools do not take advantage of these subsidies to increase their fees even more."

Mr Chng Hee Kok, an MP for Tiong Bahru GRC, who said last year that the public should recognise the schools' autonomy and therefore support the fee increase, had this to say yesterday: "The new scheme is a good move. The fundamental argument for independent schools is that these schools will improve the standard of education. "With one in three pupils eligible for financial aid now, I think the new scheme will weaken the argument that independent schools are only accessible to a certain class of people."

Another parent, Mrs Florence Lim, 44, whose son is in Raffles Institution, said: "I have a lot of faith in the potential of independent schools in bringing the best out of my son but the fees are quite formidable. So I'm sure many parents will welcome this scheme because it relieves our burden considerably.