Our partners at Grassroots Futures are fundraising to bride school expenses for our refugee children. Please visit their website to support this challenging project
In Hong Kong refugee children must attend school by law until they turn 14 or graduate from high school. To cover expenses the families receive a government subsidy as mandated by the Security Bureau for which the Refugee Union campaigned in 2014.
The Education Bureau (EDB) waves monthly fees entirely and REFUNDS the cost of winter and summer uniforms, shoes (black and sport), school bag, curriculum books, some stationary, internet fees, lunch and school bus or public transportation for the child (not for the accompanying parent in the case of kindergarten and primary school) .
It is frankly a much welcomed and generous subsidy which does not compare with the inadequate assistance offered by the Social Welfare Department for general costs of living. See details here: http://refugeeunion.org/support/
However, the EDB disburses the education subsidy AFTER the start of the academic year by transferring it to the SWD contractor (ISS) which sits on the cash and rarely makes it available to refugee parents till December or January and even later in certain cases. Incidentally, this is an abuse of service that must be addressed, unless the objective is to cause distress in which case it is effective
In the past, the EDB agreed to transfer the subsidy to certain NGOs or helpful residents who would then advance the cash to refugee families on the back of such written guarantees. That practice appears to have stopped for new refugees, though it is maintained where it was established years ago. It should also be noted that some school principals issue “Credit Notes” to refugee parents of good standing allowing them to collect the material first and pay later
The delayed disbursement by ISS causes unnecessary financial stress on refugee parents who are pressured by school administrators to purchase all the necessary material in August before the start of the academic year in September.
The bridging finance refugees require varies from a couple thousand HKD in kindergarten to much more in high school. In other words, it is really a lot of money! You will appreciate it is a terrible situation for people not allowed to work, as the one desire that units all parents in the world is the education of our children
Please visit Grassroots Future social media to support, or you may donate through Refugee Union with tag “EDU”.