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ERIC Number: EJ962450
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Apr
Pages: 22
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 51
ISSN: ISSN-0020-7187
The Tension between Parents' Informed Choice and School Transparency: Consumerism in the Hong Kong Education Voucher Scheme
Fung, Kit Ho; Lam, Chi Chung
International Journal of Early Childhood, v44 n1 p31-52 Apr 2012
Voucher systems are based on the theoretical assumption that giving parents a choice of schools subjects institutions to the mechanism of market forces, which, in turn, pushes them to reform their services. While the ability of parents to make sound educational choices on behalf of their children is questioned by opponents of school choice, parents in a voucher system are entrusted with choosing schools for their children. They are also provided with information about schools to facilitate their informed choice making. Based on the principle that empowering parents to choose a school stimulates healthy competition in the education market, which, in turn, creates incentives for schools to refine their services to reflect parents' wishes, the Pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme was introduced into the privatized kindergarten sector in Hong Kong in 2007. Under this scheme, kindergartens receive fee subsidies when parents choose to enroll their children and are required to disclose operational data and to make their schools transparent to parents so as to help them make informed choices. To what extent do these transparency requirements help parents make informed choices and, in turn, improve schools? This question is particularly interesting for Hong Kong as all of its kindergartens have long been privatized. This study uses a mixed approach, collecting survey data from parents and schools and also interviewing parents. It shows that the information made available by kindergartens does not seem to focus on how what they offer is unique. Instead, they seem more inclined to release information that satisfies parents' concerns about preparing their children academically for primary education. As a result, the extra information, and resulting parental choice, may not necessarily improve education quality.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Kindergarten
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Hong Kong