Textbooks to cost more again

Local | Sophie Hui Jul 18, 2017
Parents will again pay more for textbooks for the coming school year with price increases for the most commonly used ones higher than the rate of inflation, the Consumer Council said.

The watchdog surveyed 542 commonly used textbooks from 20 publishers - 94 for primary schools and 448 for secondary schools - and found that prices of more than 95 percent had risen by an overall average of 3.2 percent for the next school year, while the inflation rate was only 1.8 percent.

It is the fifth consecutive year without a price cut for textbooks. Some 98 percent of books will see a price increase of an average of 0.7 percent to 5.8 percent, while the remaining 2 percent will remain unchanged, meaning just 11 textbooks will keep last year's price.

The watchdog said secondary school textbooks for visual arts, language and biology see the most significant rises - from 4.4 percent to 5.8 percent - while the price of tourism and hospitality studies textbooks is the same as last year.

For primary school, prices for music books have increased by 3.4 percent - the biggest rise among the subjects.

Parents of secondary school pupils also need to pay more than those of primary school children. The council found the average increase for secondary school textbooks is 3.3 percent - 0.4 percentage points more than last year, while primary school textbooks only rose 0.1 percentage points compared to last year's 2.9 percent.

The council said prices rose due to the higher printing costs. The price of paper is higher than last year, while the number of school-age children has dropped.

Michael Hui King-man, chairman of the council's publicity and community relations committee, said schools and teachers should cut reliance on textbooks but use other tools like PowerPoint or videos.

"The textbook is of course an important tool that they [teachers and students] can use in teaching and learning, but I think in modern teaching, there are lots of other tools and materials they can make use of," Hui said, adding his suggestion can also reduce parents' financial burden.

The watchdog also said the Education Bureau has established mechanisms to stabilize textbook prices in the past, including the "five-year rule of no revisions," whereby textbooks are not allowed to have a new edition within five years.

The bureau has also implemented a "debundling" policy since 2014, under which textbooks and other study materials have to be priced and sold separately.

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April 2018