Petition to ministers to regulate pre-school fees

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Petition to ministers to regulate pre-school fees

Postby jamestan197300 » Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:58 pm

Dear all,

I am one of the parents affected by the recent sharp increase in pre-school fees and you can read more about it on

http://www.kiasuparents.com/kiasu/forum ... =3&t=31870

I have previously written to the ministers about this issue but have received any response because I am a single voice.

But I believe that as a group, our voices will be heard. I am writing a petition to the ministers to regulate the pre-school fees. If you are a Singapore parent and have been affected by the school fees hikes and want to support this petition. Please send a short message "I would like to support the petition to regulate pre-school fees" with your name and email. I will consolidate your details when sending to the ministers. Please share this with your friends and ask them to write to me at jamestan197300@gmail.com

The deadline for sending out this petition will be 30 June 2012.

Regards,

James

The draft petition is attached:

Minister of Education, Mr Heng Swee Keat
Minister of State Education, Mr Lawrence Wong
Acting Minister of Community Development, Youth & Sports, Mr Chan Chun Sing

Petition to regulate fees for pre-schools given rampant fees increases
Dear Mr Heng/Mr Wong/Mr Chan,

I am writing to you on behalf of [X] Singaporean families to petition to you to regulate the school fees for pre-schools. Many Singaporean families are affected by incessant fee hikes by the pre-schools which are putting a strain on the financial resources on some families.

Increasing the fee subsidy will not help because these pre-schools will just increase the school fees correspondingly and the parents will not benefit from the subsidy. The other obvious solution is to ask parents to consider cheaper options, however there is an increasing trend where pre-schools are benchmarking their fees to each other and essentially all the pre-schools in the same area are charging the same fees leaving parents with little options. In addition, there has been a consolidation in the market where groups like Knowledge Universe have been acquiring various pre-school chains in Singapore and setting benchmark prices leading to overall increase of fees in the market. If left unchecked, I shudder to think what parents will have to pay for private pre-school education in a few years.

As an example, my child attends Brighton Montessori International and within a short span of 2 years from Nursery 2 to Kindergarten 2, fees have increased from $850 in 2010 to $1,275 in 2012 before MCYS subsidy and GST for just half-day lessons. This represents an increase of $425 in 2 years or a 50% increase within a short span of 2 years despite a lower teacher student ratio in K2 compared to N2.

The school had increased school fees by more than $100 each time in Apr 2010, May 2011 and has again increased the fee in April 2012. Each time the school will cite higher cost of operations as reasons for fee increases. Whilst I understand that costs have increased, I am doubtful that it has increased by so much and I believe that there is a high element of profiteering and exploitation. We understand that Brighton is highly profitable and believe that the acquisition by Knowledge Universe had led to further school fee hikes.

The government cannot continue to rely on free market forces argument and let pre-schools freely increase the fees every year without justification. If the government can regulate private property prices, I do not understand why it cannot regulate private pre-school fees. Expenditure on property and education are probably the 2 largest expenditure items for middle income families in Singapore, many middle income families are hurting from the rise of property prices and the education costs. Please do not just focus on helping certain segments of the population, the middle income families are a large part of the Singapore demographics and are crying out for help.

I would like to suggest the following recommendations.
1. Form a price approval committee/team within MCYS – The team should be tasked to approve fee increases above 5% per annum or inflation rate whichever is higher. Schools will need to justify to the team why it should increase the fees by more than 5% per annum or the inflation rate.
2. Fee increase only once every 2 years – The fees should not be increased every year. The business is relatively predictable once the capacity reaches a certain state, the company can easily forecast rental and salaries increases for 2 years. There is no necessity to increase every single year, these schools that increase fees every years are just exploiting the parents.
3. Benchmarking fee caps to direct costs of the operator – Pre-schools should be able to charge a fee linked to its 2 largest direct operating costs, rental and direct staff costs. Consumers don’t mind paying more if the fees are genuinely for highly qualified teachers or if the schools are located in prime locations. For example, if the direct cost per student is $500, perhaps the school can charge up to 2x of $500 as the fee cap. The schools need to prove that they are paying teachers higher wages or that their rental costs have increased.
4. Approve further acquisitions of pre-school chains – Knowledge Universe has acquired Learning Vision, Brighton, Odyssey and Pat’s Schoolhouse in the past few years. If left unchecked, groups like Knowledge Universe will end up cornering certain segments of the market.

Some parents would hope to be able to consult with the relevant Minister on this matter and take the discussion forward. We look forward to your response.

Regards,

James Tan
On behalf of

jamestan197300
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Re: knowledge universe preschools - Pat's, LV, Odyssey, Brig

Postby jamestan197300 » Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:06 am

Dear all,

Thanks for all the feedback. I am encouraged to see that I am not the only one facing the situation. I have decided to write a formal petition to ministers and have started a new post. Please read it.

http://www.kiasuparents.com/kiasu/forum ... =3&t=34124

Please do support the petition and encourage your friends to do so.

I believe there is strength in unity and it is better than being just a single voice.

James

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Re: Petition to ministers to regulate pre-school fees

Postby fatBobo » Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:35 am

Emailed.

Thanks so much James.

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Re: Petition to ministers to regulate pre-school fees

Postby DesertWind » Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:05 pm

Why do MOE allow foreign chains like Knowledge Universe to acquire all the top name local bred pre-schools in Singapore? And especially from your posting here, the school fees for eg. for Brighton Montessori increased from SGD850 to SGD1200+ for half-day? That's simply ridiculously high! And without price controls from our government MOE in the pre-school scene, it just seem so easy for such organisations to come in and exploit us parents. Or profiteer from us.

Something that the government needs to look into.

Nowadays, this thought is often on my mind - that the government itself is out to "eat" our money as much as possible. To add insult to the injury, government is even ALLOWING or even partnering corporations (ie. property developers, transport cos. etc which they have "privatised") to take advantage of us and we have no choice. ie. by allowing property prices to be left unchecked until it is too late (perhaps even deliberately allowing this to happen by letting in high-net worth individuals who can afford to buy a PR status in SG). They are also allowing inflation to happen. Allowing all sorts of competition and doubtful organisations (like casinos) just to stimulate the economy to add to their choifers but not aware (or ignoring) whats happening to us common folks cost of living. The thought that the government is ALLOWING such things to happen in our own backyard to PUBLIC SECTOR goods (eg. education, transport and housing) is really driving me nuts. If this government is not helping and protecting us in these basic areas, why do we need this government for?

An average child-care centre in a HDB block is already charging about SGD900 for full-day. Wondering who can afford such price nowadays?
Last edited by DesertWind on Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Petition to ministers to regulate pre-school fees

Postby longmao.irene » Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:15 pm

Hi James,

Tx for d effort!

Our kids r in LV, n as u mentioned we r under their "emotion
bondage". Kudos to u for speaking on behalf for us!!
Cheers

I would like to support the petition to regulate pre-school fees"

Wong Oi Leng, Irene
Longmao.irene@gmail.com

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Re: Petition to ministers to regulate pre-school fees

Postby DesertWind » Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:22 pm

It was disappointing to me because my first choice of pre-school for my boy was Learning Vision (but due to the lack of vacancies could not get into the branch in the polytechnic at YCK and also the one at the grassroot club). I read the back-ground that it was setup locally and was impressed at their standards. Next choice to me was Patschoolhouse due to the reputation and bi-lingual teaching. But the high school fees was definitely a strong deterent to me, besides the main-gate security which I was not comfortable with in the branch nearest to me. My greatest dissapointment came when I found out both LV and PSH were bought over by a foreign agency. Could not help wondering why our top brand names pre-school (something that we can be so proud of) will sell out?

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Re: Rate of fee increase of other preschools & some curricul

Postby jamestan197300 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:50 am

Dear TIA,

You might want to read this thread and join the petition.

http://www.kiasuparents.com/kiasu/forum ... =3&t=34124

James

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Re: Kinderland

Postby jamestan197300 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:54 am

Dear parents,

Please support the petition to regulate pre-school fees. We need more voices.

http://www.kiasuparents.com/kiasu/forum ... =3&t=34124

Regards,

James

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Re: Learning Vision Fee increase

Postby jamestan197300 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:09 am

Dear Parents,

I sympathise with your plight.

Please join in the petition to regulate fees, we need more voices. Please read the following thread.

http://www.kiasuparents.com/kiasu/forum ... =3&t=34124

James

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Re: Childcare fee increases

Postby jamestan197300 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:31 am

Dear Parents,

I sympathise with your plight.

Please join in the petition to regulate fees, we need more voices. Please read the following thread.

http://www.kiasuparents.com/kiasu/forum ... =3&t=34124

James

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