The Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) of Hong Kong is a government proposed scheme which aims at promoting development within the private schools sector of Hong Kong. By bringing about development in the private sector, the government aims at providing the students and parents a greater variety of choices in the field of education.
While the DSS no doubt is of great benefit, the question of whether it is beneficial to students and parents arises The first DSS school was set up in 1991, with the school year of 1991-1992 first introducing the DSS scheme.
At first, only trusted DSS secondary schools existed under the scheme; however the school year 2000-2001 introduced the DSS scheme to the primary schools of Hong Kong. The following school year, that is, the year 2001-2002 improved the terms and provisions under the Direct Subsidy Scheme, in order to attract more schools to sign up for the scheme. Nowadays, many primary and secondary schools can be found under the DSS scheme, with the figures increasing every year.
The provisions under the DSS scheme are very favourable for schools: they are not only extend a number of exclusive economic perks, but also offer a greater degree of autonomy when compared to the government schools and aided schools of Hong Kong. Under the economic perks is the fact that these schools receive both the advantage of aided schools and private schools: not only do schools under the DSS system receive recurrent subsidies from the government, but they also are allowed to charge a school fee from their students. This means that the Direct Subsidy Scheme allows these schools to receive annual aid from the government, and also gain further financial aids from the schools fees they charge from students.
With regards to the degree of autonomy these schools enjoy are three basic points – the curriculum, the school fees and the admission requirements. The schools are able to decide and pick a curriculum of their own – it is not subject to the limitations of the school curriculum advised by the Education Bureau. With regards to school fees, the schools are also able to pick any value they prefer – as such, fees can vary anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000. Lastly, the admission requirements is also up to the respective school’s preference – except for deciding admissions on the basis of a written entrance exam, these schools have free rein over deciding which students to enrol in their schools.