“These fees will increase by between S$20 to S$60 per month for students who are permanent residents, and by between S$20 to S$150 per month for international students” (Schools Fees For PRs And Foreigners To Increase From 2016, Toh Ee Ming).
Besides the generic explanation that the Ministry of Education (MOE) wishes to “further differentiate fees by citizenship” – the same proffered in 2013, the last time school fees were raised for students who are permanent residents and for international students – perhaps more information can be provided on the regularity and some details of the periodic review. From the 2016, the increase will range between S$20 and S$150 per month (TODAY, Oct. 1).
Most will agree on the need for differentiation between the permanent residents, international students, and Singapore citizens, but to what extent? How did the MOE arrive at these numbers, and how have the fees changed over the years?
Less attention has been paid to this announcement by the MOE, because school fees for Singaporean students have not been changed, and general education – in addition to the financial assistance schemes and bursaries available – remains highly subsidised. However, clarity on the increases will be useful for the disgruntled parents, many of whom have been reported to be “unhappy with the decision”. Furthermore, the generalisation that permanent residents and foreigners are necessarily wealthy is not true too. Over the period of a ten year education in the primary and secondary schools, the accumulated fees are significant, and could deter these parents from sending their children to local schools.
What might also put the rising fees in context is the number of permanent residents and international students who will be affected in 2016. News reports are still premised upon anecdotes, and reactions of the interviewees seem to vary based on their household incomes and corresponding abilities to pay. Numbers from MOE in this regard would be helpful.
A version of this article was published in TODAY.