Are the annual increase in childcare fees justified?
I refer to the article “My First Skool raises fees – are parents paying too much?” (Straits Times, Jan 25).
It states that “My First Skool, the NTUC-run childcare/infantcare centre and preschool, one of Singapore biggest chains, has raised their school fees yet again, sending new parents into a panic.
The fee increase will be between $6 and $33 a month for childcare and $5 and $20 for infantcare.
Up to $34 a month more may not sound like much at first glance.
But take into account the fact that My First Skool has been increasing their school fees every year from 2014-2016.
In 2013, it was announced that My First Skool would raise fees in 2014 by up to $32.10, as well as remove the sibling discount extended to parents with more than one child enrolled.
In 2015, they once again increased childcare and infantcare fees by an average of $32 a month.
2016 saw yet another fee hike, of an average of $34 per month for childcare and $14 for infantcare.
This means that it now costs about $100 a month more, or over $1,200 a year, to send your kid to My First Skool than it did in 2013.
To put things into perspective, My First Skool’s monthly fees for childcare are currently $712.21 to $770.40 a month, while infantcare fees are $1,356.78 to $1,364.25 for Singaporeans.
The fee hikes since 2013 have thus added up to a good 15 per cent. The inflation rate from 2013 to 2016 certainly doesn’t justify it, while wage increases over the same period have not kept pace either.
My First Skool’s financial assistance programme is only extended to those with a gross monthly household income of $3,500, or $875 per capita.
But at such income levels, these families are usually already eligible for significant Infant and Child Care Additional Subsidies, which means My First Skool won’t even have to fork out much to help them.”
In this connection, according to NTUC First Campus’ annual reports – its surplus after contribution to the Central Cooperative Fund (CCF) and the Singapore Labour Labour (SLF) has been increasing almost yearly by about 203 per cent, from $3.6 million in 2012 to $10.9 million in 2016.
As a social enterprise of the labour movement – is this appropriate?
Leong Sze Hian