ST had a report about a kindergarten, St James Church Kindergarten, being able to keep on operating at its Dempsey site till 2022. In the report, ST reported that the median kindergarten fee per child is $520. According to SingStat, the median monthly resident household income in Singapore is $8290 in 2014. This means that the median monthly kindergarten fees per child is about 6.3% of the median monthly household income.
Imagine if a household has two kids! That means that household will be spending 12.6% of its household income on JUST kindergarten fees alone! I mean… if it was for full-day childcare service, then perhaps it is understandable why the fees may be so high. But since the ST article is about St James Church Kindergarten, which does not provide childcare services (I checked on the website of the Early Childhood Development Agency), then ST must mean that the $520 median monthly fees refer to fees for just kindergarten.
Isn’t it a tad exorbitant, then? No wonder Singaporeans are saying that it is expensive to have kids. And mind you. Unless the family is considered low income, they don’t get any subsidies for kindergarten. And a family with median household income certainly doesn’t qualify as low income…
But wait. That surely cannot be right. How can the median monthly fees for kindergartens in Singapore be so high?
I did a quick check. There are 215 kindergartens operated by the PAP Community Foundation (PCF). The monthly fee in one of the PCF kindergarten is up to about $200 a month. And that highest fee is for foreign students. I can’t imagine that the fees for PCF kindergartens vary that much. I think it is fair to assume that the highest monthly fee for a PCF kindergarten is $300. Then there are now 10 MOE kindergartens (five more opening next year). And they charge $300 a month for Singapore permanent residents. So there are at least 225 kindergartens charging less than $300 a month.
There is a total of 499 kindergartens in Singapore this year. Out of those, because of PCF and MOE kindergartens alone, 225 kindergartens charge less than $300 a month. Unless the fees for next 25 more expensive kindergartens are suddenly that much higher (as opposed to a gradual increase) from $300, it is hard to imagine that the median monthly fee for kindergarten is $520.
And we must bear in mind that there are a number of kindergartens operated by mosques. These generally charge very affordable fees. For example, the Assyakirin Mosque Kindergarten charges only $107 a month. I am sure if I am determined enough, I can find another 24 kindergartens that charge monthly fees lesser than $300.
So a quick check on the internet and a bit of good sense will lead one to quickly conclude that it is highly unlikely for the median monthly kindergarten fee in Singapore to be $520. Why then did ST publish that figure? Where did they get that figure from? Did they not do their own checks? Did they not ask the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) if that figure is correct? Or should there be any qualifiers? For example, perhaps what ST meant is that the median monthly fees for kindergartens operated by for profit entities are $520. But the ST report made no such qualifiers, resulting in a figure that seem to be representative of the entire kindergarten landscape. Highly misleading.
Another example of the deplorable standards of ST journalism.
[Featured image from Yahoo Newsroom]