ESF - English Schools Foundation

Educated decisions

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 July, 2012, 12:00am

Hong Kong's success is in part based on the ever-changing kaleidoscope of corporate nomads who have been prepared to uproot their families and come here quicker than you can say 'expat package'.

However, when it comes to schools, they are increasingly finding there's no room at the inn. Many professionals are deciding against moving here as they simply can't get their children into schools.

The French International School has 2,300 pupils spread over three campuses. The moment the newest campus was opened, in February, it was swarmed with 600 children. The French Chamber of Commerce is currently processing 150 new visa applications per month.

Things don't fare better for Canadians. At 295,000, they rate as the biggest group of foreign passport holders here. With 2,830 students, the Canadian International School, is packed to the gills.

The Australian International School is full at 1,100 students, has long waiting lists and is looking to expand. English Schools Foundation establishments are also bursting at the seams; is it any wonder that ESF is said to stand for 'Every School Full'?

There are new schools in the works, but the government isn't getting top marks for releasing land for education facilities. Singapore has international schools aplenty and when expats weigh up the Lion City or Hong Kong as a place to live, the SAR is often dismissed due to its lack of vacant classroom space.

Mark Twain said: 'I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.' Hong Kong, it seems, has been content to let a lack of schooling opportunities interfere with its ability to attract foreign talent. Lessons need to be learned and remembered.