22nd September 2023 – (Hong Kong) Kentville Kindergarten, a renowned traditional kindergarten in Kowloon Tong with nearly 60 years of history, announced its decision to cease operations three years from now. Starting from the next academic year, the school will no longer accept applications for K1 (first-year kindergarten) enrolment. The decision to close down the school after the completion of the 2025/2026 academic year was communicated through an official press release by the founder and supervisor, Helen Wong Wai-han.
Ms. Wong explained that the decision to close down the school was motivated by several factors. Firstly, approximately 30% of the school’s staff, including the supervisor, principal, management team, and senior teachers, are approaching retirement age or have already reached it. Secondly, there has been a significant decline in the number of K1 enrolments for the 2023/2024 academic year. Additionally, the school has been impacted by the overall decrease in birth rates in Hong Kong, which have reached historic lows, as well as the trend of young families immigrating out of the city.
Currently, the kindergarten employs a total of 74 teachers, of which 30% (including the supervisor, principal, management team, and senior teachers) are either at retirement age or nearing it. The situation has worsened during the current academic year, with only 300 new students enrolled in K1, compared to 500 in the 2022/2023 academic year, representing a drastic 40% decrease. Since 2019, the decline in enrolments has become an undeniable issue, making it increasingly difficult to ignore the ongoing downward trend. Ms. Wong further emphasised that like all other schools in Hong Kong, Kentville Kindergarten has been adversely affected by the sharp decline in birth rates and the emigration of young families, resulting in a significant drop in student enrolments.
The planned closure of the school will be implemented in three phases over the next three years. The current academic year, 2023/2024, will be the final year for K1 students. Following that, the school will no longer admit new K1 students for the 2024/2025 and 2025/2026 academic years.
Ms. Wong stated that the decision to implement a three-year phased closure was made after careful consideration, with the aim of prioritising the well-being of the current students. This arrangement ensures that each student at Kentville Kindergarten can complete the full three-year curriculum. Ms. Wong expressed her gratitude and called for continued support from parents and teachers, stating, “Today’s announcement fills me with mixed emotions of reluctance and immense gratitude and blessings.”
In the press release, she extended her appreciation to the parents and teachers of graduating students, acknowledging that most of the teaching team had devoted their careers to Kentville Kindergarten, with many teachers serving until retirement. She highlighted the meaningful work of early childhood education, stating, “We have had the privilege of making a significant impact on the lives of young children, contributing our part to educate the future generation of Hong Kong. Our dedicated staff have always wholeheartedly taught and cared for every student.”