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Mothers' experiences of a voucher scheme within the context of Hong Kong's early education: Issues of affordability and justice


  • Yuen, Gail
  • Lam, Mei Seung


This paper examines issues of affordability and justice using the concept of “basic structure” as developed by Iris M. Young in order to produce a more nuanced account of the Pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme. We draw on the experiences of Hong Kong mothers of different socio-economic status who have participated in the voucher scheme. The scheme aims to provide affordable quality early education by giving parents a flat-rate voucher so as to assist them in enrolling their children in non-profit local kindergartens. We base our arguments on the central premise that socially just policy requires meticulous attention to the basic structure that determines distributive patterns. We go on to argue that the basic structure is governed by institutional assumptions, rules, and practices about class, gender, and markets. Our analysis references both quantitative and qualitative data of a three-phased mixed-method study with >1400 mothers. The key findings reveal how mothers of different socio-economic backgrounds experienced the voucher scheme where power structures and relations are legitimized, thus contributing to the structural processes that reproduce constraints and injustice. Mothers' articulation regarding the policy recommendation of free early education adds insights into the constraints they experience and a notion of collective responsibility in supporting the education of young children.

Suggested Citation

  • Yuen, Gail & Lam, Mei Seung, 2017. "Mothers' experiences of a voucher scheme within the context of Hong Kong's early education: Issues of affordability and justice," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 185-194.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:82:y:2017:i:c:p:185-194
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.09.030

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yuen, Gail, 2015. "Markets, choice of kindergarten, mothers' care responsibilities, and the voucher scheme in Hong Kong," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 167-176.
    2. Jo Sparkes & Anne West, 1998. "An Evaluation of the English Nursery Voucher Scheme 1996-1997," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(2), pages 171-184.
    3. Rafael Granell, 2002. "Education Vouchers in Spain: The Valencian Experience," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 119-132.
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