Myths about after school activity programs at top international schools
Before the new term starts in January, we felt it was important to debunk some myths about signing up to after school activity programs at international schools. If you’re a parent with a child attending an international school, it is true that it may be logistically straightforward to have your child stay at school after lessons end to continue with extracurricular activities. This saves you having to plan a trip by car/taxi/MTR to another venue. However, there are some significant drawbacks to these programs which parents may not be aware of. Moreover, there are powerful tools you can use to ensure you are able to preserve convenience while not falling prey to these other disadvantages.
The first myth: exclusivity
The first myth to debunk is that many after school activity programs are tailor made for that international school. If you’re paying high school fees, it’s natural to assume the fees translate into custom ASA/ECAs. The reality is that many after school activity programs are provided by education centres that also provide courses on the Bizibuz platform, with exactly the same curriculum and course content. The good news is that for parents with children who aren’t attending international schools, you can still access the same quality of after school courses as those that are!
For example, two of Bizibuz’s most popular STEM providers also manage courses at international schools. Genius Development runs STEM courses as part of the after school program at Hong Kong International School and Cobo Academy runs courses at the Chinese International School.
Genius Development is one of the largest providers of science education for children and adolescents in Hong Kong. They incorporate innovative ideas and methods into a STEM curriculum. Their curriculum was developed by experts and educational psychologists, catering to the needs of students at different stages of psychological development. Genius Development teachers are also graduates in science-related fields from prestigious universities with unrivalled subject expertise, teaching skills and infectious enthusiasm.
The Genius classroom uses a project-based methodology to allow students to explore like a scientist or an engineer. It emphasizes the thinking and development of students, honing their problem-solving skills in the process, developing their ability to acquire new knowledge based on existing knowledge and to apply that knowledge in unfamiliar situations.
>> Explore Genius Development courses for 3-18 year olds across multiple locations in HK here
Cobo Academy is a STEM education company with a mission to empower our next generation to become future ready through early exposure to coding, AI, robotics and more! They are a team of experienced tech leaders, entrepreneurs, educators and parents who share the same passion for our children and vision about the future of technology. Designed to augment formal education, their certificate-awarding regular term courses, holiday camps and corporate workshops are tailored to give tech enthusiasts a head start into the future. FUN is guaranteed!
>> Explore Cobo Academy courses for 4-14 year olds in Wan Chai here
The second myth: price
If one accepts that these programs are not uniquely offered to the relevant international school, then the common assumption is that they are offered at a cheaper rate than elsewhere. Afterall, parents are paying high fees to have their child attend the school, so surely the cost of supplementary activities are subsidized?
Unfortunately the reality is often the opposite. While many of Hong Kong’s international schools are set up as not-for-profits which exempt them from taxation under s88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance, they are still run as commercial entities which means they charge the education centres for participation in their after school programs. It differs from school to school as to whether this is in the form of a commission applied to a parent’s spend or a rental cost but in all cases, this has the effect of constituting an incremental cost for an education centre to participate on top of their usual fixed costs associated with their own branches. And in many cases this gets reflected in the pricing.
For example, ActiveKids is one of the most active providers on the Bizibuz platform. Before COVID hit, they managed courses in after school programs at over 80 schools across Hong Kong. Yet you’ve probably not heard of them because they manage their courses under distinct brands. Their chess courses are run under the name, The Chess Academy.
Without naming names, one of the most prestigious international schools in Hong Kong is currently running a Christmas camp that includes Chess Academy classes at a cost of HK$4,980 for 5 days of 3 hour classes. This translates into an hourly cost of HK$332. Chess Academy classes are available through Bizibuz at a cost of HK$280/hour.
Another example from ActiveKids includes their fun cooking classes offered under the name, Stormy Chefs. This name would definitely be familiar to parents at Canadian International School and Hong Kong International School. Again without naming names, the same school is offering Stormy Chef classes over Christmas at a cost of HK$4980 for 5 days of 3 hour classes or HK$332/hour. Stormy Chef classes are available through Bizibuz at a cost of HK$280/hour. This means international school parents are paying a 19% premium to have their child attend these classes at the school instead of booking through Bizibuz!
The third myth: refunds
Another myth to debunk is that convenience from participating in school programs extends to reschedulings and cancellations. We’ve all experienced having a child fall ill unexpectedly or exceptionally allowing them to attend their best friend’s birthday party rather than dance class. I have yet to come across a school organized after school activity program that compensates for absence (COVID cancellations being the only exception and even then I recall schools debating whether there would be a partial reimbursement only). And you are a brave soul if you try to seek compensation for withdrawing your child from a program completely because they are just not enjoying it.
On the Bizibuz platform, we require all parent course cancellations and any individual class or course cancellations by education centres to result in full cash or credit refunds to parents. And all a parent needs to do to initiate the cancellation and compensation, is to navigate to the course booking under the My courses area associated with their Bizibuz account, and click a button to cancel the course or class. Even if an education centre goes bankrupt, Bizibuz stands by our compensation policy. We remove the need to chase the education centre for a refund, keep track of credits or worry about the refund appearing on your credit card because the compensation is immediately processed to your credit card or usable as a credit balance under your Bizibuz account.
So in short, while it’s logistically convenient to transport your child from school to another venue for an after school activity program, just realize this limits your choice of programs, potentially increases the cost and certainly limits flexibility around seeking compensation for reschedulings and cancellations. Now all parents irrespective of whether your children attend international school programs or not, can utilize the Bizibuz course search engine to find the most convenient course that suits YOUR location, timing and budget constraints. And given education centre participation is not exclusive, why limit your choice for your child to a handful of providers when you can search from 250+ on Bizibuz?
Here are a few more education centres on Bizibuz that also grace the afterschool activity programs of the best known international schools:
Pong Zone Table Tennis
Pong Zone Table Tennis is committed to promoting the development of table tennis in Hong Kong, and actively provides professional table tennis training for children and youth aged 4 to 18. In the past ten years, the team members of the table tennis team have won the Hong Kong Open, primary and secondary school competitions in various districts, regional competitions and various charity competitions and invitational competitions. Many students have also been selected to represent Hong Kong in national competitions.
>> Explore Pong Zone Table Tennis courses for 4-18 year olds in 7 locations across HK here
Babel Film Workshop
Babel Film Workshop believes everyone deserves a chance to express themselves through film, and create work that they can be proud of. Through fun and professional programs, they make filmmaking accessible to students, so that they can become creators in the most powerful communication medium in our world today. Its collaborative nature fosters students’ leadership, communication, and project management skills. Plus, it involves all other art forms (such as theatre, literature, and music), welcoming students of diverse skills and interests.
>> Explore Babel Film Workshop courses for 8-15 year olds in Wong Chuk Hang here.