FREE PRESCHOOL EDUCATION FOR ALL KIDS

by 高莫娜 Mona
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We have come across studies that assert that quality early childhood education is highly beneficial for children. In a recent report, childhood education specialists argued that preschool children learn best from all things they hear, do, see, feel, taste, and smell; and the people they interact with; and everywhere they go.

In spite of early year’s education benefits, there are thousands of kids who do not get enrolled into school before the age of six. Thanks to the sky high prices of preschools, this crucial education is not for all. The more you pay, the better services you get. High quality education, which is a basic right of every child, is compromised due to the hefty fee bills. In developed countries, preschool education is either free or subsidized by the Government. Developing countries are at worse. Even where education is subsidized, not all families are eligible to afford that even. 

In 2007, Hong Kong Education Bureau subsidized the preschool education for all children regardless of their socio-economic status. It was a grand ruling where the poor families were able to apply for total free preschool education for their kids. Education vouchers were introduced and they are still running successfully.

Education Vouchers 

An education voucher is a certificate issued by the government, which parents can apply toward tuition at a non-profit making school, rather than at the profit.

Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman argued for the modern concept of vouchers in the 1950s, stating that competition would improve schools and cost efficiency

In some Southern states during the 1960s, school vouchers were used as a method of perpetuating segregation. 

Have a look at some other countries using education voucher successfully:

Chile

In Chile, there is an extensive voucher system. It was introduced in 1981. 

Europe

In most European countries, education for all primary and secondary schools is fully subsidized. 

Ireland

Most schools in Ireland are state-aided parish schools, regardless of whether or not it requires its students to pay fees. 

Sweden

In Sweden, a system of school vouchers (called skolpeng) were introduced in 1992.

Netherlands

In the Netherlands, the “school struggle” (schoolstrijd) concluded in 1917 leading to a de facto system of school vouchers. 

HONG KONG – The voucher scheme was first introduced in 2007/08 school year

PREPRIMARY EDUCATION VOUCHER SCHEME – PEVS

The voucher system is for children three to six years-old who attend a non-profit kindergarten. The scheme was implemented in Hong Kong in 2007. Each child was supposed to get HK$13,000 pa. The $13,000 subsidy was separated into two parts. $10,000 was used to subsidize the school fee and the remaining $3,000 was supposed to be used for kindergarten teachers to pursue further education and obtain a certificate in Education. 

It is good to see that at least the Governments are working towards a better nation building. UNICEF also designs and conducts Early Childhood Education programs to ensure that children are brought up in an environment conducive to learning. UNICEF also provides supplemental cost-effective and efficient interventions in developing countries that have inadequate formal early learning opportunities. It makes children empowered to knowledge and opportunities for successful learning and to make a smooth transition to school.

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