Another costly lesson as prices of textbooks to climb again

Top News | Riley Chan Apr 17, 2018
Parents will again need to spend more for textbooks in the coming school year as prices will rise by 2.6 percent, the Education Bureau said.

But principal education officer Joe Ng Ka-shing said the increase is moderate and that the bureau's measures to stabilize prices are working.

In an article published on the bureau's official page, Ng said the "Policy of Debundling Textbooks and Teaching/Learning Materials for Pricing" implemented in 2014 has enabled parents to make more flexible purchases as textbooks and other study materials are required to be priced and sold separately.

The bureau has also established mechanisms to stabilize prices, including the "five-year rule of no revisions," under which new editions of textbooks are not allowed to be published within five years.

"The Education Bureau encourages parents and schools to recycle textbooks by organizing second-hand book donations and resale events," he said.

Ng said students should share textbooks in subjects, such as music, home economics and design and technology, in which they usually have only one lesson a week.

He said 40 percent of students in the current school year benefit from the School Textbook Assistance Scheme and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme.

The average allowance per student rose 3 percent from the previous year. The total amount of allowance was about HK$1.15 billion.

"Building on the existing foundation, we will continue to optimize the measures to stabilize textbooks prices," Mak said.

Prices have been increasing in recent years - by 3.2 percent, 3.5 percent, 2.3 percent and 2.1 percent in 2014, '15, '16 and '17.

A report published by the Consumer Council in July last year revealed that the price increases were higher than the rate of inflation.

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 inflation rate was only 1.8 percent.

The council said schools and teachers should reduce their reliance on textbooks and use other tools like PowerPoints and videos.

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March 2019